Obrien, Eileen

Title: Associate Professor of Sociology and Assistant Chair of Department of Social Sciences

Department: Department of Social Sciences

Phone: 757-249-0390

Email: eileen.obrien@saintleo.edu


  • Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, College of William & Mary
  • Master of Arts, Sociology, The Ohio State University
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Sociology, University of Florida


O’Brien is author of Whites Confront Racism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001); White Men on Race: Power, Privilege and the Shaping of Cultural Consciousness with Joe Feagin (Beacon Press, 2003, winner of Choice magazine’s 2004 Outstanding Academic Book Award); Race, Ethnicity and Gender: Selected Readings with Joe Healey (Sage, 2003; 2007); The Racial Middle: Latinos and Asian Americans Living Beyond the Racial Divide (NYU Press, 2008, favorably reviewed in Contemporary Sociology , 2010 and Amerasia, 2011); and Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Class: The Sociology of Group Conflict and Change (7th edition) with Joe Healey (Sage, 2015); along with numerous articles and book chapters. She has also supervised research at Perceptive Market Research, worked as a research consultant for Harris Interactive, and researched racial disparities in criminal sentencing at the Ohio Commission on Racial Fairness. She has led numerous community workshops and lectured on confronting racism and white privilege.

Community Affiliation:

  • Member, American Sociological Association, Southern Sociological Society, Association for Asian American Studies, Eastern Sociological Society
  • Board Member, All Together (promoting racial dialog, Williamsburg, VA)
  • Virginia Organizing Project, charter member, Williamsburg, VA

Teaching & Professional Interests:

O’Brien is passionate about ending all forms of inequality, and created SLU courses: SOC 350 (Race & Ethnic Relations); SOC 334 (Sex & Gender); and SOC 110-HM (Building a Multiracial Society), exploring the impact of colorblind racism on society. O’Brien also enjoys teaching SOC 343 (The Social Ladder: Diversity & Inequality in America). O’Brien teaches all core courses for the major--Senior Seminar (SOC 499), Sociological Theory (SOC 323), and both research methods courses (SOC 321 & 322)—with Qualitative Methods being her favorite. O’Brien is currently researching Asian American involvement in hip hop, and piloting a study on race and gender in military families.

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