Rachel O'Neill
Research Fellow



I joined the Department of Sociology in September 2016 as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. I received a PhD in Gender and Cultural Studies from King’s College London earlier the same year, and prior to this completed an MSc in Gender at the London School of Economics and a BA in Sociology, Politics and Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

My work is concerned with gendered subjectivities, intimacy and sexuality, power and cultural politics, and has been published in journals including Men and MasculinitiesSociological Research Onlineand Australian Feminist Studies. In 2016 I was awarded the British Sociological Association SAGE Prize for Innovation and Excellence.



My research is interdisciplinary, with influences from sociology, media and cultural studies and psychology. 

My PhD research explored ongoing transformations of intimacy in the context of neoliberalism, examining how cultural imperatives to work on the sexual self shape the meaning and experience of intimate relationships. This research was based in an ethnographic study of the so-called ‘seduction community’, a commercialised cultural formation in which the affective dynamics of attraction and desire are understood as part of a skill set that can be actively cultivated. I am currently preparing a monograph based on this research, to be published by Polity. 

As a Research Fellow at York, I am embarking on a new project looking at an emergent movement-market in ‘healthy eating’. This project will continue my interest in the study of culture and subjectivity, but on a significantly different terrain to that explored in my PhD, as I turn from the masculinised spaces of the seduction community to the notably-feminised spheres of the UK’s new food and wellness industries. This project will explore the cultural politics of food alongside shifting conceptions of health in relation to gender, embodiment, labour and consumption. 


Selected publications

Journal articles

  • O’Neill, R. (2015) The Work of Seduction: Intimacy and Subjectivity in the London ‘Seduction Community’.Sociological Research Online, 20(4): 5.
  • O’Neill, R. (2015) Whither Critical Masculinity Studies? Notes on Inclusive Masculinity Theory, Postfeminism and Sexual Politics. Men and Masculinities, 18(1): 100–20. 
  • O’Neill, R. (2015) Feminist Encounters with Evolutionary Psychology: Introduction. Australian Feminist Studies, 30(86): 345–50. 


Edited collections

  • O’Neill, R. ed. (2015) Feminist Encounters with Evolutionary Psychology. Australian Feminist Studies, 30(86). 


Review essays and response articles

  • O’Neill, R. (2016) Reply to Borkowska. Men and Masculinities, Online first edition. 
  • O’Neill, R. (2014) Response to Tutenges and Sandberg: As If Gender Mattered: Reconsidering the Implications of ‘Intoxicating Stories’. International Journal of Drug Policy, 25: 356–7.
  • O’Neill, R. (2014) Review of Performing Sex: The Making and Unmaking of Women’s Erotic Lives, by B. Fahs.Feminism and Psychology, 24: 552–6.


Book chapters 

  • O’Neill, R. (forthcoming 2016) The Aesthetics of Sexual Discontent. In A. Elias, R. Gill and C. Scharff (eds) Aesthetic Labour: Rethinking Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 
  • O’Neill, R. (2016) Homosociality and Heterosex: Patterns of Intimacy and Relationality Among Men in the London ‘Seduction Community’. In A. Cornwall, N. Lindisfarne and F. Karioris (eds) Masculinities Under Neoliberalism. London: Zed Books.


Media appearances and podcasts


Contact details

Dr Rachel O'Neill
Research Fellow
Department of Sociology
University of York
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 32 3060