Department of
Politics and Human Rights

Erin O’Connor

Associate Professor of Politics and Human Rights

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Erin O’Connor is an Associate Professor of Sociology.  She specializes in the fields of culture, art, work and knowledge.  As an ethnographer, Professor O’Connor became a glassblower in order to research the relations between bodily practice, creativity, labor, craft, workers and artists, as well as the emergence of culture in the glassblowing studio for her dissertation, “HOTSHOP: An Ethnography of Embodied Knowledge in Glassblowing,” which she defended at the New School for Social Research in 2009.  She has also conducted an ethnographic analysis of creativity in interdisciplinary scientific research as a researcher at the Social Science Research Council.  Her work has appeared in the journals Thesis Eleven, Qualitative Sociology Review, Qualitative Sociology and Ethnography, as well as in edited volumes such as Practicing Culture and Embodying Sociology: Retrospect, Progress and Prospects.  Her book, Craftwork: Lessons from a Hotshop for Understanding Art, Knowledge, and Meaning, is currently under revision for publication.  Dr. O’Connor’s next project will expand her research on the body and embodiment into the field of environmental sociology, specifically water-use practices in New York City and the surrounding region.  


Dr. O’Connor enjoys the outdoors and creating.  She lives in Brooklyn with her family.



Associate Professor of Politics and Human Rights


Politics and Human Rights





Ph.D., New School for Social Research
M.A., New School for Social Research
Honors, B.A., Michigan State University

Recent Work

(forthcoming) “Meaning and studio work,” in Studio Studies: Ethnographies of Creative Production, Eds. Iganacio Farias and Alex Wilkie. London: Routledge.

2012 “Cross Disciplinary Literacy in the Age of Apps and Mobile Devices,” with Rebecca Mushtare and Millie Burns, in Emerging Pedagogies for the New Millennium. Network: A Journal of Faculty Development (

2012 “Saber hecho carne: la experiencia dl sentido y la busqueda de expertise en el soplado de vidrio”” in Hacia una nueva sociología cultural: Mapas, dramas y prácticas. C. E. Benzecry (ed). Buenos Aires: Quilmes University Press. 

2009 “The Act of Collaborative Creation and the Art of Integrative Creativity: Originality, Disciplinarity and Interdisciplinarity in Science.” Co-Authored with Diana Rhoten. Thesis Eleven (96(1)).

2007 “The Centripetal Force of Expression: Drawing Embodied Histories into Glassblowing.” Qualitative Sociology Review, “Ethnographies of Artistic Work,” Edited by Howard Becker and Marie Buscatto.

2007 “Hot Glass: The Calorific Imagination of Practice in Glassblowing.” In Craig Calhoun and Richard Sennett (eds.), Practicing Culture. London: Routledge.

2007 “Embodied Knowledge in Glassblowing: meaning and the struggle towards proficiency (modified reprint).” In Chris Shilling (ed.), Embodying Sociology: Retrospect, Progress and Prospects, The Sociological Review Monograph.

2006 “Glassblowing Tools: Extending the Body towards Practical Knowledge and Informing a Social World.” Qualitative Sociology, 29(2).

2005 “Embodied Knowledge: Meaning and the Struggle Towards Proficiency in Glassblowing.” Ethnography 6(2).


Introduction to Sociology

Sociology of Art

Sociology of Culture


Classical & Contemporary Social Theory

Museum Studies

Material Culture

Environmental Sociology

Body Impolitic


Office Hours

Spring 2016

Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:15-11:30am

& by appointment