School of Social and Political Science

Órla Meadhbh Murray

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Visiting Scholar

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I am a Visiting Scholar focusing on the work of Dorothy Smith and her innovative feminist approach to research, Institutional Ethnography (IE). I am currently working on a monograph for Bristol University Press (forthcoming September 2022) based on my PhD research - an instutitonal ethnography of UK university audit processes.

I am also currently Research Assistant on the Promoting inclusion and student success: Supporting the identity development of underrepresented students project, focusing on STEMM (sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine) students at Imperial College London Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship.

Institutional Ethnography

In 2014, I founded the Institutional Ethnography Network (IEN) for UK-based researchers interested in the work of Dorothy Smith and her feminist approach to research, Institutional Ethnography (IE). We ran a series of launch events: a Masterclass and Q&A event with Smith when she received an Honorary Degree at Edinburgh, and an IE workshop. I regularly provide methodological and research design advice on this approach via email and in-person to other academics in the UK and maintain a mailing list for UK-based institutional ethnographer researchers.

I also teach introductory classes and workshops on institutional ethnography:

  • 2017-2020 for MSc and PhD students on various postgraduate methods courses at the University of Edinburgh Sociology Department
  • October 2019 for Scotland-based MSc Research & PhD students funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science
  • November 2019 for staff and students at University of Melbourne Sociology Department
  • May 2020 online Spring into Methods course funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities and the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. The course involved video lectures and illustrated guidance produced by myself in collaboration with an illustrator (Raquel Cronopia)
  • October 2020 online for the South West Doctoral Training Partnership in collaboration with Dr Adriana Suarez-Delucchi (Bristol) and Dr. Liz Ablett (UCD).


(2020) Beyond Confession: Doing Holistic Reflexivity and Accountability. In: R. Govinda, F. Mackay, K. Menon & R. Sen eds., Doing Feminisms in the Academy: Identity, Institutional Pedagogy and Critical Classrooms in India and the UK. New Delhi: Zubaan/Chicago: Chicago University Press.

(2018) Feel the Fear and Killjoy Anyway: Being a Challenging Feminist Presence in Precarious Academia. In: Y. Taylor & K. Lahad, eds., Feeling Academic in the Neoliberal University: Feminist Flights, Fights and Failures. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 163-189.

(2018, with Lisa Kalayji) Forging Feminist Futures Through Discomfort: Vulnerability, Authority, and Labour in the Queer Feminist Classroom. Journal of Applied Social Theory. 1(2), pp. 12-34. Available at: <>

(2016, with Muireann Crowley & Lena Wånggren) Feminist Work in Academia and Beyond. In: R. Thwaites & A. Pressland, eds., Being an Early-Career Feminist Academic: Global Perspectives, Experiences, and Challenges. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 215-235.

(2014, with Angus Bancroft, Jade Zimpfer & Martina Karels) Working at Pleasure in Young Women’s Alcohol Consumption: A Participatory Visual Ethnography. Sociological Research Online. 19(3). Available at: <>

(2014, with Angus Bancroft, Martina Karels & Jade Zimpfer) Video Ethnography Case: Alcohol Consumption Among Young University Students in the United Kingdom. SAGE Research Methods Cases. DOI:

(2014, with Angus Bancroft, Martina Karels & Jade Zimpfer) Not Being There: Research at a Distance with Video, Text and Speech. In: S. Hillyard & M. Hand, eds., Big Data? Qualitative Approaches to Digital Research, Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing. pp. 137-153.

Book Reviews

(forthcoming 2020) L. Olufemi (2020) Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power. London: Pluto Press. Sociological Review Online

(2020) S. Lewis (2019) Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family. London: Verso. LSE Review of Books.

(2020) A. Emejulu & F. Sobande (eds) (2019) To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe, London: Pluto Press. Co-authored with Kanchana Ruwanpura, University of Edinburgh. Gender, Place. and Culture.

(2016) A.I. Griffith & D.E. Smith (eds) (2014) Under New Public Management: Institutional Ethnographies of Changing Front-Line Work, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Qualitative Research, 16(6), pp. 738-739.

(2015) D.E. Smith & S.M. Turner (eds) (2014) Incorporating Texts into Institutional Ethnographies, Toronto, University of Toronto Press. Sociology, 49(6), pp. 1232-1233.

(2013) H. Lutz, M.T. Herrera Vivar & L. Supik (eds) (2011) Framing Intersectionality: Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies, Surrey: Ashgate. Irish Journal of Sociology, 21(1), pp. 117-119.

(2013) J. Reger (2012) Everywhere and Nowhere: The State of Feminism in the United States, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sociological Research Online, 18(2).


I have experience tutoring and lecturing across 17 different undergraduate and postgraduate courses in sociology, sustainable development, human geography, and qualitative methods at the University of Edinburgh (2013-2020). I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) (2015), and was nominated for Best Postgraduate Tutor (2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017) and Best Feedback (2015) by students in the Edinburgh University Student Association Teaching Awards.

I was a team member of the Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives project (2017-2019), a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and Ambedkar University Delhi led by Dr. Radhika Govinda.

Research interests

Research interests

Feminist Sociology, Institutional Ethnography, Dorothy Smith, Audit Culture, Academia, Universities, Intersectionality, Black feminisms, Epistemologies, Work & Labour, Queer Studies, Identity

PhD Research

I received my PhD in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh in 2019 supervised by Professor Liz Stanley & Professor Mary Holmes, examined by Professor Rosalind Edwards, University of Southampton and Dr. Julie Brownlie, University of Edinburgh.

My PhD research was an ESRC (1+3) funded project (Award No: 1220113) concerned with how to do feminist sociology using Dorothy Smith's ideas about institutional ethnography (IE) through exploring the textually-organised relations of ruling focusing on UK universities. How and in what ways do texts organise UK universities, and what can a feminist research approach add to understanding this? Based on a six year institutional ethnography and using autoethnographic reflections, interview data, and extensive text analysis, the thesis explored feminist concerns about how power works in institutions and how to negotiate these as a feminist researcher. Three academic audit practices were explored in detail - the National Student Survey (NSS), UK research council funding applications, and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) – alongside methodological reflections on how to do feminist research and text-focused institutional ethnography.

Based on this research I am currently writing a monograph with Bristol University Press (forthcoming September 2022).

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