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Dr Sean O'Connell

BA (Northumbria), PhD (Warwick)

Professor of Modern British Social History

Careers Liaison Officer (S2); Joint Pathway Co-ordinator - History and Sociology (S2)

On leave Semester 1 2013-14

Tel: +44 (0) 28 9097 1417


Office: 16UQ.201

Sean’s teaching interests include working class family and community, oral history, gender history, consumerism, and the social history of modern Britain.

Research Interests

Sean’s work on the history of the car was part of the shift in British social history away from the study of production towards the analysis of consumption and consumers. His more recent projects have continued this interest. These have analyzed the origins of men’s consumer magazines, the social and business history of mail order catalogues, the history of working class experiences of consumer credit and debt, and the origins and history of `joyriding.’ His research has been supported by grants from the ESRC, the Leverhulme Trust, and the AHRC. He is PI on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project 'The Politics of Consumer Credit in the UK, 1938-1992'.

Select Publications


Articles and chapters:

  • 'An age of conservative modernity, 1914-1968, in S. Connolly (ed)', Belfast 400: people, place and history (Liverpool University Press, 2013).
  • ‘Community, race and the origins of the British credit union movement’, Quaderni Storici, lxxvii, 2 (2011).
  • 'Epopee d'un credit populaire', Les Grandes Dossiers des Sciences Humaines, 22 (2011).
  • 'Speculations on working class debt: credit and paternalism in France, Germany and the United Kingdom', in Enterprises et histoire, lx (2010)
  • `From “Toad of Toad Hall” to the “Death Drivers” of Belfast: an exploratory history of joyriding’ in British Journal of Criminology, xlvi ( 2006). [read online version. – at]
  • `Working-class consumer credit in the U.K., 1925–60: the role of the check trader’ in Economic History Review, lviii (2005).
  • 'An alternative to the moneylenders? Credit unions and their discontents', in History and Policy (2005). Read online at
  • `Fashioning masculinity: Men Only, consumption and the development of marketing in the 1930s' in Twentieth-Century British History, x (1999). Co-authored with Jill Greenfield and Chris Reid.


Prof. Sean O'Connell teaches on the following programmes / modules:


HIS3012 Working Class communities in tthe UK 1900–1970
HIS2019 The Making of Modern Britain
HIS2018 The Making of Contemporary Britain
HIS2063 Recording History
HIS3043 Gender and Culture in the UK, 1914-1970



MHY7035 Historiography
MHY7020 Research Skills
MHY7079 Topics of British History

Current PhD supervision:

  • Sam Manning, 'Cinema and cinema goers in Belfast and Sheffield, 1950-1970'
  • Anthony McCoubrey, 'Women's leisure in Northern Ireland, 1945-1969'