Dr Nicholas Hardy

Picture of Dr. Nicholas Hardy

Assistant Professor
B.A., M.A. (Essex University, UK), Postgrad Cert (London Metropolitan University, UK), Ph.D. (Queen's University)

I worked in social research for over six years in London (UK) before returning to academia to undertake my doctoral research, receiving my PhD in Social Theory in 2012.  Before joining UNB’s Department of Sociology in 2013, I spent one and a half years at King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario.

Research Interests

My current research brings together three areas of social theory.  The first develops the concept of ‘dispositif’ (approximate to ‘social apparatus’).  Known most widely for its use by Michel Foucault, dispositifs have been largely undertheorised in social and political theory even though they offer an intriguing and potentially detailed account of the mechanisms of political rule.  Strengthening the concept through metatheoretical development as well as using empirical research, this line of inquiry has already produced three published articles.

My second area of research is working towards theorising the ontological ‘place’ of material entities as parts of social relations.  While there has been recent engagements with this question through science and technology studies, much of it has been through the anthropologically informed lens of ‘actor network theory’.  Instead, by using the ontologically deep and philosophically informed framework of Critical Realism, a more nuanced account of both entities (with their held powers) and the social relations generated around them can be produced.  This ‘recombinant’ account of the interconnections between entities (both those naturally occurring and those human constructed) and wider social relations offers a much stronger account for understanding the circumstances of ‘situated-agency’ that humans find themselves in.

The third area is work on a book manuscript.  Using arguments initiated in my PhD, the manuscript investigates Michel Foucault’s treatment, use, and—ultimately—reliance upon the extra-discursive/material world as a core part of his theory.  Similar to the balancing effect of dark matter upon the visible matter that humans experience, my argument is that Foucault heavily integrated materiality into his work, yet shied away almost completely from articulating how it operated as part of his theory.  Through close textual reading, theoretical exegesis, and the non-syncretic integration of elements of Critical Realist philosophy, the argument establishes the importance of material relations for Foucault and for Foucaultian analysis more generally.

Finally, I am also developing work to study the social impact and ramifications of nuclear energy, with special focus upon the Canadian nuclear industry.  Both informing, and partly informed by, my wider theoretical research, this empirical research area investigates the social effects of nuclear energy production—not only issues of technological lock-in and path dependency—but nuclear energy’s wider reverberations in terms of environmental, social, political, and economic policy.

Selected publications

  • Hardy, N. (2015). ‘The contingencies of power: reformulating Foucault’ in Journal of Political Power. Routledge/Taylor and Francis, Vol.8(3), pp.411-429. 
  • Hardy, N. (2015). ‘Alea capta est: Foucault’s dispositif and capturing chance’ in Foucault Studies. Copenhagen Business School Open Access Journal, Vol.19, pp.191-216.
  • Hardy, N. (2014). ‘Wolff, Althusser, and Hegel: outlining an aleatory materialist epistemology’ in Rethinking Marxism. Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 26(4), pp.454-71.
  • Hardy, N., (2013). 'A history of the method: examining Foucault's research methodology’ in The Edinburgh Companion to Poststructuralism. Eds. B. Dillet, I. MacKenzie, and R. Porter, Edinburgh University Press, pp.95-121.
  • Hardy, N., 2012 (published 2013), 'Theory from the conjuncture: Althusser’s aleatory materialism and Machiavelli’s dispositif' in Décalages: the Journal of Althusser Studies, Vol.1, Iss.3, Art.5, Occidental College Scholar.
  • Hardy, N., 2011 'Foucault, genealogy, emergence: re-examining the extra-discursive' in Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, Wiley-Blackwell, 41(1), pp.68-91,(This paper can now be accessed for free on Academia.edu here.)
  • Waters, I., Hardy, N., Delgado, D., and Dahlmann, S., 2007, 'Ethnic Minorities and the Challenge of Police Recruitment' in The Police Journal, Vol.80(3), pp.191-216

Supervision areas

Classical and contemporary social theory, marxism and post-marxist theory, critical realism, Michel Foucault, the social relations of power, the social theory of events, and political sociology.

Please contact me to discuss possible supervision for undergraduate, MA, and PhD research projects.

Office: Tilley Hall, room 9

Email: Please see UNB staff directory.

Tel: +1 (506) 458-7444