Erin O’Connor

Associate Professor of Sociology

Erin O’Connor is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Politics and Human Rights.  She specializes in the fields of ethnography, culture, art, work, knowledge, and the environment. Her book manuscript, Firework: art, craft, and self among glassblowers, draws from four years of ethnographic research in a glassblowing studio to analyze the meaning of contemporary craft in industrial and knowledge economies. Specifically, it descriptively reveals how relations among body, materials, and others inform the emergence of self, community, and meaning while also investigating the socio-political meaning of craft over time. 

Dr. O’Connor’s next ethnography will investigate fishing and shellfishing practices in Jamaica Bay, Queens in the context of environmental and social-political change. She has also conducted an ethnographic analysis of creativity in interdisciplinary scientific research as a researcher at the Social Science Research Council and published in the journals Thesis ElevenQualitative Sociology ReviewQualitative Sociology and Ethnography, as well as in edited volumes such as Practicing Culture and Embodying Sociology: Retrospect, Progress and Prospects. In class, she uses her areas of expertise as lenses through which to investigate social inequality and human rights as regards race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and class among other issues. She also serves as Faculty Advisor for the Bedford Hills Club, which supports the MMC college program at the Bedford Hills Prison.

As a Recruiter for the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. O’Connor represents both the Politics & Human Rights and International Studies majors as well as the following minors: Gender & Sexuality Studies, Social Work, Sociology, Political Science, International Studies, and Politics & Human Rights. Please contact her with any questions.

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


Associate Professor of Sociology


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

2017. “Touching Tacit Knowledge: handwork as ethnographic method in a glassblowing studio”. Qualitative Research 17(2), 217-230.

2016. “The Prototype: Problem Work in the relationship between Designer, Artist, and Gaffer in Glassblowing” in Craftwork as Problem Solving: Ethnographic Studies of Design and Making (2016). Ed. Trevor Marchand. London: Ashgate.

2016. “Inter- to Intracorporeality: The haptic hotshop heat of a glassblowing studio” in Studio Studies: Operations, Topologies & Displacements. Eds. Igancio Farias and Alex Wiley. 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).


Work, Craft, Art, Ethnography, Culture, Knowledge, Social Theory, Body, Environment


Introduction to Sociology

Art, Politics & Society

Culture & Ideology


Great Social Thinkers

Environmental Justice

Radical Labor and Artisan Movements

EcoCulture & Sustainability

Foundations of Social and Political Inquiry

Research Methods in the Social Sciences


Office Hours

Fall 2017

By appointment


The Faculty Center 400