School of Humanities - Arts
FTG16a T- Block/ FTG Rooms
Hazel O' Brien is a Lecturer in sociology at WIT and a member of the Analysing Social Change Research Group and Spirituality in Society and in the Professions Research Group in the School of Humanities. She has taught across Arts, Social Science, Psychology, Early Childhood Studies, and Social Care programmes at WIT since 2008. She completed her Ph.D (Sociology) with the University of Exeter under the supervision of Prof. Katharine Tyler. That research was an ethnographic study of two Mormon congregations in Ireland and identified how traditon operates in both maintaining and disrupting understandings of religious and national identities through the case study of Mormons in Ireland. She received her B.A (Sociology and English) and M.A (Sociology) from NUI Maynooth.
Hazel's research interests include religious identities, the relationship between majority and minority cultures, and gender and sexualities. She is drawn towards ethnography as a research method, and is interested in digital ethnography and the study of digital religions and religions online.
She is currently supervising postgraduate projects related to the the role of Irish social media influencers in narratives of self-control in Irish women’s identity work, the experience of precarity on migrant identity amongst Brazilian migrants in Ireland, and the role of children's literature in children's identity development.
Her own research is currently focused on the adaptations of tradition inherent within Global Mormonism.
Research interests span Sociology, Anthropology, Gender Studies, and Sexualities. Interests at the moment are focused in the area of the sociology and anthropology of religion, specifically the experiences of minority religious groups in Ireland.
Hazel is generally interested in exploring the relationship between majority/minority cultures, whether that manifests itself through religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. Key themes throughout her research are the role of tradition and memory in identity, and the intersections and conflicts of religious, ethnic, and national identities.
Ongoing current projects include: exploring Irish Mormonism in a global mileau, synthesising the study of religions in Ireland, and exploring the role of women in modern Mormonism (funded by and in conjunction with the Maxwell Institute of Brigham Young University), and the supervision of postgraduate projects in the areas of gendered identities.
2006-2008 Outreach Lecturer in Women's Studies, UCD, Dublin.
2008-Present Lecturer in Sociology, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford.
Hazel is also a member of the following professional groupings:
Purser, E. and O' Brien, H. (2021) 'Breaking the “Stained Glass Ceiling”: Understanding the Social, Structural, and Theological Barriers to the Participation and Engagement of Ordained Women within the Church of Ireland' in The Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions, Vol 8, pp 86-109.
O’ Brien, H. (2020) 'What does the rise of digital religion during Covid-19 tell us about religion’s capacity to adapt?' in Irish Journal of Sociology DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0791603520939819.
O’ Brien, H. (2019) ‘The marginality of ‘Irish Mormonism’: Confronting intersections of religion, race, and nation’ in Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religions 21 pp 52-75 DOI: 10.18792/jbasr.v21i0.40
Forthcoming 2022: McNamara, B and O' Brien, H. The Study of Religions in Ireland: Past, Present, and Future. Bloomsbury: London
Forthcoming: O’ Brien, H. ‘Debating Irish identity: Religion, race, nation, and the construction of Irishness’ in Cotter, C. and Hashemi, M. (eds) Religion and Nonreligion in Fortress Europe: Perspectives on Belief, Immigration, and Identity in a Time of Polarized Politics. Bloomsbury: London
O’ Brien, H. (2020) ‘Institutional gender negotiations in Irish Mormon Congregations’ in Hoyt, A. and Petrey, T.G (eds) (2020) The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Mormonism pp 405-419 Routledge: London; New York DOI: 10.4324/9781351181600-32
Halford, A. and O’ Brien, H. (2020) ‘Contemporary issues for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ireland and the United Kingdom’ in Shepherd, G.R, Shepherd G.A, and Cragun, R.T (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Global Mormonism Houndsmills; Basingstoke; New York DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-52616-0_18
O’ Brien (2019) Review of Zerubavel, Eviatar (2018) Taken for Granted: The Remarkable Power of the Unremarkable, Princeton UP: Princeton and Oxford for Cultural Sociology DOI: 10.1177/1749975519834265
Recent Conference Papers:
O’ Brien, H. (2020) “Debating Irish identity: religion, race, and nation and the construction of Irishness” at Religion and Nonreligion in Fortress Europe Conference, April 25th. Originally due to take place at University of Edinburgh UK, this conference was adapted to be an online conference as a result of Covid-19.
O’ Brien, H. (2020) “Religion on the edge: Policing Irishness through cultural hegemony” accepted for the 2020 Sociological Association of Ireland Conference at IT Sligo, but cancelled due to Covid-19.
O’ Brien, H. (2020) “Speaking from the outside-in: Irish Mormon voices on and offline” accepted for the 2020 Global Mormon Studies conference at University of Coventry UK, but cancelled due to Covid-19
O’ Brien, H (2019) “Mormon identity in online spaces: Transcending traditional boundaries”, paper presented to Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions Annual Conference, Trinity College Dublin, 11th Oct
O’ Brien, H (2019) “Negotiating a ‘global’ Mormon Identity: (Dis) Identification in the Irish Case” paper presented at De-Centering Mormonism Conference, Bordeaux, France, 29+30th March
O’ Brien, H. (2018) “Creating ‘Irish Mormonism’: On the Margins in a Global Faith", paper presented to Society for the Scientific Study of Religion Annual Conference, Las Vegas USA, 25-27 Oct [In absentia]
O’ Brien, H. (2018) "The Marginality of 'Irish Mormonism': Confronting Imagined Boundaries", paper presented to Joint Conference of the Irish Association for the Academic Study of Religions and the British Association for the Study of Religions, Queens University, Belfast, 3rd-5th September
O’ Brien, H. (2018) "The Legacy of Tradition and Irish Catholicism in Ireland: 'Irish Mormonism' in Modernity", paper presented to Sociological Association of Ireland Annual Conference 18+19th May
O’ Brien, H. (2018) "Continuity and Change in the Irish Religious Experience", paper presented to WIT Research Sparks, Waterford Institute of Technology, 20th Feb
O’ Brien, H. (2017) "Mormons on the Margins: Maintaining a Minority Religious Identity in 'Post-Catholic' Ireland", paper presented to British Sociological Association's Sociology of Religion Conference, University of Leeds, 12-14th July
Participation in a radio disciussion on religion and the Covid-19 pandemic on UK’s Voice of Islam FM, broadcast 12th Oct 2021
Participation in a panel discussion on "Women's History in a Global Context" at Women Making History conference for BYU's Maxwell Institute, Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Centre, Utah USA, 28th June 2019
BSA (2017) Interview in SocRel Newsletter Issue 6. Acessed at: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https%3A%2F%2Fbsasocrelstudygroup.wildapricot.org%2Fresources%2FDocuments%2FSocrelNews%2520Issue%25206.pdf
Participation in 2014 Beat FM radio documentary on the topic of Direct Provision and Asylum Seekers in Ireland