Professor Henrietta O'Connor

Picture: Professor Henrietta O'Connor

Head of College of Social Science, Arts and Humanities

Professor of Sociology

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 5952

Twitter: @hso1





Personal details

  • BA (London)
  • MLitt (Dublin)
  • PhD (Leicester)

I joined the Department in August 2014 having previously been employed at the Centre for Labour Market Studies at the University of Leicester.

I did my undergraduate degree in Human Geography at Queen Mary College, University of London and then obtained a university scholarship at Trinity College, Dublin and was awarded an MLitt in 1993. I completed my PhD at the University of Leicester.

I have played an active role at the University of Leicester, most recently as Head of the College of Social Science, Arts and Humanities and Chair of the University Equality and Diversity Committee. Previously, I was Head of Department of the Centre for Labour Market Studies and as Deputy Head of the School of Management. I have also held posts as Sub-Dean of Graduate Studies and Director of Postgraduate Research in the College of Social Science.

I am Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an Academic Fellow of CIPD.


Administrative duties

  • Head of the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, University of Leicester.
  • External Examiner: University of Edinburgh, School of Social Sciences, University of Leeds
  • Trustee of the British Sociological Association (2018-), Chair of Sociological Research Online Editorial Board,  member of the Editorial Board of Sociology and Associate Editor of the Journal of Youth Studies.


Most recent publications

Zhou, C, Head, M, Marshall, D, Gilbert, B, El-Harasis, M, Raine, O'Connor, H, Atun, R, Maruthappu, M (2018) A systematic analysis of United Kingdom cancer research funding by gender of primary investigator BMJ Open

Edwards, R., Goodwin, J., O'Connor, H. and Phoenix, A. (2017) Working with Paradata, Marginalia and Fieldnotes: The Centrality of By-Products of Social Research. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

O’Connor, H. and Goodwin, J. (2017) Fieldnotes, Marginalia and Paradata in Youth Employment Restudies 1960-1985, in Edwards, R., Goodwin, J., O'Connor, H. and Phoenix, A. (2017) Working with Paradata, Marginalia and Fieldnotes: The Centrality of By-Products of Social Research. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Furlong, A., Goodwin, J., O'Connor, H., Hadfield, S., Hall, S., Lowden, H.and Plugor, R. (2017) Young People in the Labour Market: Past, Present, Future. London: Routledge.

Meer, N., Leonard, P., Taylor, S., O'Connor, H. and Offer, J. (2016) Bringing it "Home" ?  Sociological Practice and the Practice of Sociology'. Special Issue of Sociology (50: 5) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the journal.

O'Connor, H. and Bodicoat, M. (2016) Exploitation or Opportunity?: Student Perceptions of Internships in Enhancing Employability Skills. British Journal of Sociology of Education.

Goodwin, J., Hughes, J. and O'Connor, H. (2016) 'Return to Winston Parva: Starting to Reconstruct The Established and the Outsiders ‘From the Margins’. Historical Social Research, 41:3 18-30.

Boyle, P.,  Smith, L.K.,  Cooper, N.J., Williams, K.S. and O'Connor, H.(2015) Women are funded more fairly in social scienceNature, 10 September 2015 DOI: 10.1038/525181a

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2015) Norbert Elias's Lost Research: Revisiting the Young Worker Project. Rethinking Classical Sociology. Farnham: Ashgate.

Goodwin, J. and O’Connor, H. (2014) Pearl Jephcott: The Legacy of a Forgotten Sociological Research Pioneer, Sociology, 49(1) 139-155 (published online first 23 May 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0038038514530536).

Goodwin, J. and O’Connor, H. (2014) A Critical Reassessment Of The ‘Complexity’ Orthodoxy: Lessons From Existing Data And Youth ‘Legacy’ Studies, Chapter Two in Kelly, P. and Kamp, A. (2014) Critical Youth Studies for the 21st Century. Leiden: Brill.

Goodwin, J., O'Connor. H., and Quinn M. (2014) Training and Labour Needs of Young Workers in Vietnamese Organisations, Education and Training, Vol 56, No. 1, pp. 35-46

O'Connor, H. and Goodwin, J. (2013) Beyond 'Average' Family Life: a secondary analysis of atypicality in 1960s families. Families, Relationships and Societies2 (2), pp. 299-308.

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2013) Ordinary Lives: 'Typical Stories' of Girls' Transitions in the 1960s and the 1980s, Sociological Research Online, 18(1)4.

O’Connor H. and Goodwin J. (2013) – The Ethical Dilemmas of Restudies in Researching Youth, YOUNG: Nordic Journal of Youth Research, 21 (3), pp. 289-307.

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2013) Notions of Fantasy and Reality in the Adjustment to Retirement, Ageing and Society. (DOI:

O'Connor, H., and Goodwin, J. (2012) Revisiting Norbert Elias's Sociology of Community: Learning from the Leicester Restudies, The Sociological Review, Vol. 60 No.3, pp 476-497.

Goodwin, J. and O’Connor H. (2012) 'The Impacts of Demographic Change: Young Workers, Older Workers and the Consequences for Education, Skills and Employment', Education and Training, Vol. 54, No. 7.

Goodwin, J., O'Connor, H. and Plugor, R. (2012) 'Doctoral Students' Experiences at the University of Leicester', Journal for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

O'Connor, H. (2011) 'Resisters, Mimics and Coincidentals: Intergenerational Influences on Childcare Values and Practices', Community, Work and Family 14(4): 1-19.

O'Connor, H. and Goodwin, J. (2010) 'Utilizing Data from a Lost Sociological Project: Experiences, Insights, Promises', Qualitative Research 10(3): 283-298.

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2009) 'Through the Interviewer's Lens: Representations of 1960s Households and Families and in a Lost Sociological Study', Sociological Research Online 14(4).

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2009) 'Whatever Happened to the Young Workers?', Journal of Education and Work (Special Issue: Continuity and Change in 40 Years of School to Work Transitions) 22(5): 417-431.

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2009) 'Youth and Generation: 'In the Midst of an Adult World'', pp. 21-30 in Furlong, A. (ed.) Handbook of Youth and Young Adulthood: New Perspectives and Agendas. London: Routledge.

Full listing of publications


My principal research interests focus on the sociology of work and employment, in particular debates around transitions to and from the labour market. For example, together with John Goodwin, I have carried out research and published widely in aspects of transition such as young people's transition from school to work and, more recently, older worker's transitions out of the labour market and in to retirement. I also have an active research interest in graduate labour markets and has recently completed a project with the Careers Service exploring the labour market aspirations of graduates with a particular emphasis on perceptions of internships.

Another area of research is concerned with gender, work and employment with a focus on motherhood, employment and childcare decisions. My PhD thesis focused on intergenerational patterns of childcare and decisions made by mothers of different generations around labour market activity and childcare use.

More recently, I have developed an interest in community restudies. With John Goodwin, I am currently working on restudies of the three interrelated projects all originally carried out in Leicester during the 1950s and 1960s. The three projects are:

  • the Young Worker Project which is focused on the transition from school to work in one community
  • the Married Women's Study, a study of married women workers employed in a Leicester textile factory in the 1960s and based on work by Pearl Jephcott in Bermondsey
  • the Established and Outsiders, a study of a community known as Winston Parva, carried out by Norbert Elias and John Scotson in the late 1950s

I also have an active interest in research methods. My current work is based around the secondary analysis of qualitative data, qualitative longitudinal research and community restudies. In January 2014, I organised a conference on the theme of ‘Working with Paradata, Marginalia and Fieldnotes’.

My work on the use of the internet as a research tool in the 1990s was pioneering and together with Clare Madge, I have published widely on the use of virtual interviews as a methodological tool, and also on the role of the internet as a means of social support for new parents. The ESRC funded training package which resulted from this work can be found here.

Research funding

British Academy - (2016-2018) Youth Opportunities? The long term impacts of participation in YTS during the 1980s. A preliminary study (with John Goodwin and Andy Furlong, University of Glasgow).

ESRC - Making the 'Precariat': Unemployment, Insecurity and Work-Poor Young Adults in Harsh Economic Conditions, £178,035, 2013-2014 (with John Goodwin and Professor Andy Furlong (University of Glasgow)).

British Academy - Scoping Data Analysis on Youth Transitions and Class in Britain Post 1945, £5752, 2008-2009 (with John Goodwin).

ESRC - Research Methods Programme Phase 2 (2004-2006), Online Research Methods: A Training Package, £100,243 (with Clare Madge, Tristram Hooley, Jane Wellens).

ESRC - From Young Workers to Older Workers: Reflections on Work in the Life Process, £29, 671, 2001-2005, Rated Outstanding (with John Goodwin).


I have been awarded two recent prizes in recognition of my equality and diversity work at the University of Leicester:


I would be interested in supervising PhD study in the following areas:

  • Youth transitions from school to work
  • Gender, work and employment
  • Older workers and retirement
  • Motherhood, employment and childcare

Find out more about applying for a PhD

Share this page:

Search our site
Contact Details

School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Campus based courses
T: +44(0)116 252 3863

Distance Learning Courses
T: 0116 252 3755

Research degrees (campus-based and distance learning courses)
T: +44(0)116 252 2785

University of Leicester
Bankfield House
132 New Walk
United Kingdom

University of Leicester
107-111 Princess Road East
United Kingdom

Staff contact details

Student complaints procedure


AccessAble logo

The University of Leicester is committed to equal access to our facilities. DisabledGo has a detailed accessibility guide for Bankfield House.