Postgraduate Researcher funded by ESRC

Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology


Abi completed a BA (Hons) in Sociology from the University of Liverpool (2014-2017), gaining a first-class degree and being awarded the Lundie Memorial Prize for best overall GPA in the final year. Following receipt of a departmental scholarship, Abi completed an MA in Social Research Methods at the University of Liverpool (2017-2018). She began her ESRC funded PhD studentship in 2018.


Abi's PhD research is a place-based study of Liverpool which explores how processes of stigmatisation shape and are shaped by the urban political economy, examining various articulations of social control over time within the city. Her undergraduate research was titled 'Truth as Justice, Truth as Violence' which was a longitudinal study of the competing accounts of the Hillsborough Disaster (1989). Abi's MA research titled 'the changing face of urban regeneration' explored the consequences of shifting political ideologies and economic conditions on contemporary urban governance both locally and globally through a case study of the 'Anfield Project'. 

Thesis title

'Stigma and the City: A sociological exploration of the political economy of stigmatisation through a case study of Liverpool'.

PhD supervisors 

Dr Kirsteen Paton

Professor David Whyte

Professor Imogen Tyler (Lancaster university)

Publications and presentations

O'Connor, A. & Bishop, M. (2023). 'Being women scholar-activists: Tensions between the neoliberal university and grassroots housing movements'. [Online] Radical Housing Journal

Paton, K. and O’Connor, A. (2019). ‘Rent Gap Revised at 40: Rent Cap, Revanchism and Living in the Gap’. Nordic Geographers Meeting. Trondheim, Norway.

O’Connor, A. (2020). ‘Liverpool close to bankruptcy: how decades of stigma have pushed the city into financial ruin’. The Conversation. 26th May 2020. 

O’Connor, A. (2019). ‘Stigma and the City: A mixed methods approach to exploring stigma, power and the state’. Law and Social Justice PGR Conference. Liverpool.

O’Connor, A. (2018). ‘Exploring the local, national and global through a place-based study of Liverpool’. BISA International Political Economy Group. Liverpool

O’Connor, A. (2018). ‘Truth as Justice, Truth as Violence: A longitudinal narrative analysis of competing accounts of the Hillsborough Disaster’. British Criminological Society Annual Conference. Birmingham.

O’Connor, A (2022, February 8). ‘Boss That: Private-sector redevelopment is transforming Liverpool – but who benefits?’ [Online]. The Sociological Review Magazine.  

O’Connor, A (2020, May 26). ‘Liverpool Close to Bankruptcy: how decades of stigma have pushed the city into financial ruin’. [Online]. The Conversation. 

Media engagement 

Founder and host: ‘Sustainable and Resilient Cities’ Podcast, supported by Heseltine Institute for Public Policy. 

Invited Guest: BBC Radio Merseyside following online article (May, 2020)

Conference presentations 

Invited: Nordic Geographers Meeting, Trondheim, Norway (June, 2019) ‘Rent Cap, Revanchism and Living in the gap in Liverpool’ with Dr Kirsteen Paton

Invited: International Political Economy Working Group Annual Conference, Liverpool (October, 2018) ‘Connecting local and national urban processes through a place-based study of Liverpool’

International Sociological Association, Athens, Greece (August, 2011) with Megan Bishop (Edinburgh University) ‘The Housing Struggle is a Feminist Struggle’

European Sociological Association, Online (August, 2021) ‘The contradictions of community building in Liverpool’s ‘regeneration’ areas’

Housing Studies Association, Online (April, 2021) ‘Exploring the complexities of Liverpool’s £1 houses’

International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy, Online (September, 2021) ‘Liverpool’s changing class politics under a ‘left-wing’ local council’

School of Law and Social Justice PGR Conference, Liverpool (September, 2019) ‘A mixed-methods approach to exploring stigma, power and the state’

British Criminological Society Annual Conference, Birmingham (July, 2018) ‘Exploring power as the key mechanism in the production of truth: constructing narratives of de-legitimised identities’