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Henrietta O'Connor

Professor of Sociology, University of Leicester

Henrietta is a Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Leicester. Henrietta did her undergraduate degree in Human Geography at Queen Mary College, University of London. She then obtained a university scholarship at Trinity College, Dublin and was awarded an MLitt in 1993. Henrietta completed her PhD at the University of Leicester.

Henrietta's principal research interests focus on the sociology of work, in particular debates around transitions to and from the labour market. For example, together with John Goodwin, she has carried out research and published widely in aspects of transition such as young people's transition from education to work and, more recently, older worker's transitions out of the labour market and in to retirement.

Another area of research is concerned with gender, work and employment with a focus on motherhood, employment and childcare decisions. Henrietta’s 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, Henrietta has developed an interest in community restudies. With John Goodwin, she is currently working on restudies of the three inter-related 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; and 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.

She also has an active interest in research methods. Her current work is based around the secondary analysis of qualitative data, qualitative longitudinal research and community restudies. Her work on the use of the internet as a research tool in the 1990s was pioneering and together with Clare Madge she has 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.


  • –present
    Professor of Sociology, University of Leicester


  • 2006 
    University of Leicester, PhD