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Lisa Smyth

BA, NUI Galway, MSc (Econ) London, PhD, Warwick.
Senior Lecturer in Sociology
6 College Park
Ext 3251; Email:

My research interests lie in the fields of emotions and social roles, norms and interactions. My most recent book, The Demands of Motherhood: Agents, Roles and Recognition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), returns to neglected sociological questions concerning the connections between agency and normative complexity, through the pragmatist interpretation it offers of the recognition dynamics shaping this deeply contested and emotionally fraught role. 

My previous book, Abortion and Nation: The Politics of Reproduction in Contemporary Ireland (Ashgate 2005), analysed the significance of a gendered politics of national identity, as it has played out through a focus on abortion law.

I have also published papers on the social politics of breastfeeding, abortion and sex education and motherhood. I am currently working on how fear and resentment shapes maternal action in inner city Belfast, as well as on the significance of honour and shame in generating a normative and legal change in abortion access.

I am interested in supervising PhD theses in the fields of gender, parenthood, emotions, social roles, normative conflict and social change.


Sociological Imagination (Level 1 core)

Social Norms, Roles and Identities (Level 3 option).

I also contribute to the following modules:

Understanding Society

Contemporary Society and Social Inequalities

City Life


Recent Publications

See my Selected Works

See also Radio 4 Thinking Allowed discussion of 'Maternal Situations: Sectarianism and Civility in a Divided City' 3rd July 2013


Other Activities

External Examiner, MA Women's Studies, University College Cork

Member of the ESRC's Peer Review College