Dr Erin O'Brien

Find Erin O'Brien on

Program Lead - People, practices, policies to lead the economy

PhD (University of Queensland), MA (University of Durham)

Dr Erin O’Brien is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Justice, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology.

Erin’s current research examines political activism and advocacy strategies for social justice, human rights and environmental sustainability, with a particular focus on ethical consumerism, and investor activism. Erin’s research is concerned with studying the interplay between activists and the state in the construction of knowledge and formation of policy.

Research interests

  • Political activism, advocacy and resistance
  • Ethical consumerism and investor activism
  • Tactics and influence of political interest groups
  • Political narrative and storytelling
  • Modern slavery and human trafficking

Erin is the leader of the Activism and Social Change research group, and Higher Degree Research Coordinator for the School of Justice. She is currently supervising PhD projects on civil society activism and narrative politics in relation to modern slavery, migration, genocide, extremism, and surveillance.


Erin has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Queensland, a MA in Social Policy from the University of Durham, UK, and a BA (Honours) in International Relations from the University of Queensland, Australia. Prior to entering academia, Erin worked in strategic communications in the government and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom.


  • Challenging the Human Trafficking Narrative: Victims, Villains, and Heroes, by Erin O’Brien. Routledge 2019.
  • The Politics of Sex Trafficking: A Moral Geography, by Erin O’Brien, Sharon Hayes and Belinda Carpenter. Palgrave Macmillan 2013.
  • Crime, Justice and Social Democracy: International Perspectives, edited by Kerry Carrington, Matthew Ball, Erin O’Brien and Juan Tauri. Palgrave Macmillan 2013.

For a full list of publications  visit QUT ePrints

Additional information

Strategies for Improving Labour Conditions Within the Australian Cotton Value Chain
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
QUT1903 (1819FRP051)
Start year
  • Social Media Activism and the Fight against Forced Labour: Slacktivism, Clicktivism and Offline Participation
    PhD, Principal Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Dr Helen Berents
  • Neutralisation techniques in narrative construction by right-wing extremist and Islamic extremist groups
    PhD, Mentoring Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Dr Helen Berents, Dr Jodi Death