Dr. Matthew Hayes

Matthew Hayes

Department of Sociology

BA (Carleton), MA (Carleton), PhD (York)

Associate Professor



Matthew Hayes came to St. Thomas University in 2009.  Prior to that, he taught at Université de Moncton and UNB, and was a graduate student at York University in Toronto, where he defended his PhD dissertation in 2008.  He is originally from Dalhousie, New Brunswick.


Growing up in a small, resource town, Hayes developed an interest in questions that would eventually lead him to sociology.  In the 1980s, the town was still a bustling mill community of over 5,000, but its heyday was soon to pass, and economic insecurity was increasingly felt from the 1990s onward.  This led him to an early interest in political economy, as he searched for explanations of why his home province faced crushing austerity and high unemployment.  These interests eventually informed his PhD dissertation, which looked at the social construction of macroeconomic knowledge.  This knowledge, he argued, presents economic and productive life in ways that make certain types of interventions appear natural and self-evident, but which are actually profoundly political, and serve some social positions more so than others.


Hayes’s hometown has a long tradition of English-French bilingualism.  He attended school in a francophone, Acadian school, but spoke English at home.  This also led him to reflect about contemporary issues of cultural identity, and continues to be a source of inspiration for his research.  Since leaving Dalhousie to attend university, he has been able to take advantage of numerous opportunities to study and live overseas, first in France, and then later in the United Kingdom and Spain.  More recently, he has conducted research in Ecuador.  He speaks Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, in addition to English and French. 


Sociology first got under his skin at Carleton University in 2000, where he took a class on capitalism and modern culture with his eventual PhD supervisor, York University professor Fuyuki Kurasawa.


In 2012, he ran for mayor of Fredericton, receiving almost 40% of the votes.  He ran on an ideas-based platform, singling out the need to transition the city towards a low carbon future focused on its historic downtown districts. “We need to think about climate change from the standpoint of cities,” he says.  “What are the infrastructure changes that need to be made at the local level that will flip the way people live, from high dependence on carbon, to low dependence on carbon?  This is work we can only achieve collectively.”