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Dr Hazel O'Brien is a Lecturer in sociology at SETU 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 since 2008.  

Dr O'Brien is the author of Irish Mormons: Reconciling Identity in Global Mormonism and co-editor of The Study of Religions in Ireland: Past, Present, and Future. Her published work has variously examined the relationship between religious and national identities, the relationship between majority and minority cultures, digital religion, and gender and sexualities in religion. Dr O'Brien is an editorial board member for Mormon Studies Review and a peer reviewer for numerous journals

Dr O'Brien currently supervises postgraduate projects related to the role of children's literature in children's identity development, a queer theology approach to the work and life of St Francis, an examination of the role of feminism in conservative movements, and a study of changing touch practices during Covid-19. 

Dr O'Brien's own research is currently focused on the adaptations of tradition inherent within Global Mormonism. 


2006-2008 Outreach Lecturer in Women's Studies, UCD, Dublin. 

  • Taught general introductory modules in Women's and Gender Studies, and Sociology modules relating to the role of women in Irish society throughout the 20th century. 

2008-Present Lecturer in Sociology, South East Technological University, Waterford. 

  • Research Project coordinator for MA in Social Justice and Public Policy
  • Research supervisor for research projects on MA in Social Justice and Public Policy and MA in Spirituality
  • Teach sociology across Arts, Social Science, Psychology, Social Care, and Early Care and Education Studies undergraduate degree programmes. 
  • Dissertation coordinator for undergradute sociology dissertations

Research Interests

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. 

Dr O'Brien 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 identity and culture

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 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Being Mormon in Ireland: An Exploration of Religion in Modernity Through a Lens of Tradition and Change, University of Exeter

Award Date: 13 Dec 2018

Masters Degree, The Modern Parish at Work in Ireland: An Examination of Three Parishes in the Dublin Diocese, Maynooth University

Award Date: 01 Jul 2002

Bachelors Degree, Sociology and English, Maynooth University

Award Date: 01 Jul 2001


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