Personal details

Dr Erin O'Brien
Senior Research Fellow
Faculty of CI, Education & Social Justice,
School of Justice
Senior Lecturer
Faculty of CI, Education & Social Justice,
School of Justice
Discipline *
Political Science, Criminology
+61 7 3138 7103
View location details (QUT staff and student access only)
Identifiers and profiles

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

Professional memberships
and associations
  • Australian Political Science Association (APSA)
  • Law and Society Association
  • The Australian Sociological Association (TASA)

Political activism, Human trafficking, Advocacy, Migration, Politics, Virtual advocacy, Sex work, QUT Centre for Justice, ILGG

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


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

This information has been contributed by Dr Erin O'Brien.


  • JSB379 Political Practice, People Power and Protest
  • JSB260 Global Justice and Human Security
  • JSB263 Australian Political Institutions
  • JSB982 Transnational Crime
  • JSB418: Advanced Research Management
  • JSB171 Justice and Society
This information has been contributed by Dr Erin O'Brien.


For publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.

Research projects

Grants and projects (Category 1: Australian Competitive Grants only)

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


Current supervisions

  • 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

Completed supervisions (Doctorate)