Dr Aura Lehtonen BA (Hons), MSc, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Dr Aura Lehtonen is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Programme Leader for Sociology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her background is in interdisciplinary social sciences, with a PhD and MSc in Gender Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and a BA in Politics and Chinese from SOAS University of London. Before joining the University of Greenwich in 2022, Aura was a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader in Sociology at the University of Northampton (UoN), and she is a Fellow of Advance HE.

Aura’s research spans cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, and political sociology. It explores how difference, diversity and inequalities are understood, conceptualised and represented in contemporary culture and politics, with a specific focus on sexuality. Her work has been published in journals such as Feminist Media Studies, Feminist Review, and Sociological Research Online, and she is the author of The Sexual Logics of Neoliberalism in Britain: Sexual Politics in Exceptional Times (Routledge, 2022). Aura is on the editorial board of the journal MAI: Feminism & Visual Culture.

Prior to joining academia Aura worked in charities, and she has experience in various organisations that support refugees and people in immigration detention.

Responsibilities within the university

  • Senior Lecturer in Sociology
  • Programme Leader for Sociology
  • Module Leader: SOCI1093 Self in Society, SOCI1091 Applying Sociology


  • Fellow of Advance HE
  • Member of the Editorial Board, MAI: Feminism & Visual Culture

Research / Scholarly interests

Aura’s research can be divided into three main strands:

  1. One strand focuses on how inequalities are understood and justified in contemporary UK politics, and particularly how sexuality, intimacy and families feature in these understandings. This work involves textual analysis of policy texts and political and media discourses, and has most recently been published in The Sexual Logics of Neoliberalism in Britain: Sexual Politics in Exceptional Times (Routledge, 2022).
  2. The second strand explores representations and narratives of sexuality, sex, diversity and difference in contemporary media, combining insights from cultural studies and queer theory. This work has been published in Feminist Media Studies and Feminist Review, and in a book on representations of ‘bad’ sex that Aura is currently co-developing with Dr Jacqueline Gibbs (Middlesex University London) and Dr Billy Holzberg (King’s College London).
  3. The final strand employs critical, feminist and queer approaches to the narratives, practices and cultures of Higher Education, published previously in Teaching in Higher Education and MAI: Feminism & Visual Culture. This work relates closely to a funded project Aura is conducting with Dr Siobhan Dytham (University of Northampton), investigating the adoption of ‘good practice’ recommendations for closing the BAME Awarding gap in UK HE.

Aura welcomes enquiries from prospective PhD students in the above and related areas.

Recent publications




  • Lehtonen, A. (2022) Queering the Binary: The Politics of the Pre/Post-1992 Division in UK Higher Education. In: C. Mahn, M. Brim and Y. Taylor (eds), Queer Sharing in the Marketized University. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Lehtonen, A. & Breslow, J. (2021) Infantilised Parents and Criminalised Children: The Frame of Childhood in UK Poverty Discourse. In: J. Horton, H. Pimlott-Wilson and S. M. Hall (eds), Growing Up and Getting By: International Perspectives on Childhood and Youth in Hard Times. Bristol: Policy Press.



  • ‘Beyond the “Usual Suspects”: Exploring the Adoption of Good Practice Recommendations for Closing the BAME Attainment and Continuation Gaps’, Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Northampton (2022)
  • ‘Cultural Representation and Social Inequalities: Stories about Social Welfare in I, Daniel Blake (2016) and “Poverty Porn”’, Diversity, Community and Identity Research Showcase, University of Northampton (2021)
  • 'The UK’s Housing Benefit Cuts, the Bedroom Tax, and a Spatial Logic of Violence’, On Violence– Gender Studies Conference, University of Helsinki, Finland (2019)
  • ‘Neoliberal Penalisation and Intimate Disruptions’, Summer School for Sexualities, Cultures and Politics (SSSCP), Research Center for Cultures, Politics and Identities (IPAK), Serbia (2017)
  • ‘Geographies of Inequality and the Contested Space of Childhood: Changing Definitions of Child Poverty in UK Austerity Politics’, 7th Annual Nordic Geographers’ Meeting (NGM), University of Stockholm, Sweden (2017)
  • ‘Reimagining Sexual Citizenship: UK Welfare Policy as Sexual Governance’, Sex and Capital – European Feminist Research Conference (EFRC), University of Lapland, Finland (2015)
  • ‘“The Benefit Scrounger”: Racialisation and Sexualisation of the Welfare Recipient in Austerity Britain’, Doing Justice to Figures and Figuration – Graduate Research Symposium, Department of Gender Studies, LSE (2015)