Graeme Kirkpatrick

Graeme Kirkpatrick


  • Professor of Social and Cultural Theory, Sociology
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Personal profile

My group

PhD Supervisions

2013-2018: Emma Fraser, Walter Benjamin and ruins

2013-2018: Tom Redshaw, Technical politics

2012-2017: Feng Zhu, Video game aesthetics

2009-13: Ashley Brown, Sexual play in fantasy games

2005-12 (P-T): Paul Brown, Maslow's hierarchy of needs and Zelda players.

May 2010: Begona Ballesteros, Visiting scholar, University of Madrid, working on issues in philosophy of technology.

2006-8: Cheryl Martens, HIV awareness and corporate social responsibility.

In 2005 acted as external supervisor for Rune Klevjer's doctoral thesis on avatarial embodiment, University of Bergen.

I was co-supervisor for:

2008-13: Svet Nenov, Dipositif of terrorism

2007-10 Gareth Crabtree, Pleasure cultures of war.


New Students

I welcome applications in the areas of critical social theory, digital aesthetics and philosophy of technology.



I did my PhD at Birkbeck in London on analytical philosophy of mind and principles of explanation in the human sciences. Before that I studied political philosophy at York and Peace Studies at Bradford. I came to Manchester as lecturer in sociology in 2004. In 2015 I was professor of Media Arts, Aesthetics and Narration at the University of Skövde in Sweden and in Spring of that year I was visiting Professorial Fellow of the Digital Cultures Research Programme of the Australian Research Council University at Flinders University in Adelaide.

My research develops theory at the intersections of media technologies, human sensoria and narrative practices. I am interested in how varieties of subjectively meaningful experience relate to shifting modalities of social power. My publications have explored these issues in relation to the idea of a politics of technology design, the role of form and meaning in digital aesthetics, and the place of the senses in critical theory. I'm actively involved in several international research networks that share and develop these interests.

Research interests

My work uses concepts from critical social theory, pragmatic philosophy and modernist aesthetic theory to problematise aspects of technology that tend to get taken for granted in everyday life. For example, my first book, Critical Technology (2004) was an interrogation of the visual norms that underpin human-computer interface design and in my books on video games I have explored some of the ways that digital visual media interact with wider social forces to produce distinct, embodied experiences associated with new regimes of sense-making and meaning.

My current work is focused on the idea of a technical politics and what it means to think politically, rather than sociologically or philosophically, about technology design. Related to this, I'm also investigating the viability of 'critique' as a figure of thought in the digital age and developing the idea that some version of utopian 'future-thinking' might displace it. My newest book, Technical Politics, is a critical analysis of Andrew Feenberg's critical theory of technology.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • Critical theory
  • aesthetic theory
  • philosophy of technology
  • digital culture
  • technical politics


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