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Dr. Jo Murphy-Lawless

Adjunct Assistant Professor (School of Nursing & Midwifery)


I am a sociologist, lecturing in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin since 2005. I have an established reputation for my work on childbirth and new motherhood in Ireland and internationally. Since joining the School, I have secured over €500,000 as principal investigator or co-investigator. I have a strong record of published research activity, including two single-authored books, a co-edited book of conference papers, thirteen research reports published with an ISBN, sixteen book chapters of which twelve are single authored, and twenty-nine peer and non-peer reviewed journal articles of which seventeen are single-authored. I served on the editorial board of the international journal, Reproductive Health Matters from 1996-2003. I am a member of the EU-wide COST research network, 'Childbirth Cultures, Contexts, and Consequences'. I am also a co-applicant of the now approved ESF Exploratory Workshop, Promoting Normality in Childbirth across Europe. I set up the Birth Project Group as a joint effort for the School with the University of Edinburgh, Napier University and the Birth Resource Centre Edinburgh which has broadened the School's involvement in midwifery education research to include supporting midwifery students post-qualification to counter burn-out. I am coordinating the next event of the Birth Project Group, a two -day international workshop for midwifery students, clinicians, birth educators and birth support people to be held in the School in April, 2010.
  Addiction and substance abuse   Breast cancer   Drug addiction and social exclusion   Drug problems, treatment, policies, women, HIV, parenting   Family policy, lone parents, social change   Health policy   Health status and inequalities   Localism in policy interventions and service delivery   Mental health policy and service provision   Midwifery   Patterns of health   Politics of the welfare state   Poverty   Reproductive health   Sexuality and reproduction   Social partnership process, theories of local partnership   Sociological influences on health   Sociology of illness and health
 Supporting Normal Birth and Mothering in Marginalised Communities in Donegal
 Childbirth in Exile: Refugee and asylum seeking women's experience of childbirth in Ireland
 Piloting a Holistic Sex Education Programme: Evaluation for the Letterkenny Women's Centre
 Evaluation of The Birth Project Group, 'Stroppy Women' Workshop: Support for Newly Qualified Midwives
 An Ethnography of Independent Midwifery in Ireland

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Details Date
Member of the Birth Project Group 2007-to date
Member of the President's Animal Research Ethics Committee, University College Dublin. September, 2004 to 2006
Member of the Coombe midwifery research group 2009 to date
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
Spanish Medium Basic Medium
Nadine Edwards, Rosemary Mander and Jo Murphy-Lawless, Untangling the Maternity Crisis, First, London, Routledge, 2018, 1-178pp, Book, PUBLISHED
Dunlea Margaret, Murphy-Lawless Jo, Ohaja Magda , The nature and impact of risk discourse in the provision of antenatal care: A literature review, AHRC Risks of Childbirth in Historical Perspective network, University of Leeds , 2017, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Magdalena Ohaja and Jo Murphy-Lawless, Traditional birth attendants' pregnancy and birth practices in southeast Nigeria: a qualitative study, Women and Birth, 30, 2017, p165 - 171, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Magdalena Ohaja and Jo Murphy-Lawless, Persistent Challenges and Barriers Encountered by Women Attending Formal Antenatal Care in Nigeria , Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, 19, (2), 2017, p1 - 13, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Jo Murphy-Lawless with R. Mander, J. Patterson, N. McHugh, N. Edwards, Coded Rhetoric: The Reality of Practice, British Journal of Midwifery, 24, (4), 2016, p2 - 10, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Edwards, N. P.; Mander, R.; McHugh, N.; Patterson, J. Murphy-Lawless, J, Are staffing shortages changing the culture of midwifery?, The Practising Midwife, 19, (3), 2016, p12 - 16, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Jo Murphy-Lawless, Risk and contingency, AIMS Journal, Vol 28 , (2), 2016, p8 - 10, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Jo Murphy-Lawless, The Irish Knitting Project, AIMS Journal, Vol 28, (2), 2016, p18 - 18, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Marginality and social exclusion: jeopardising health and life in, editor(s)Ruth Deery, Elaine Denny, and Gayle Letherby , Sociology for Midwives , Polity Press, 2015, [ Jo Murphy-Lawless and Nadine Edwards], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text
Embodied Truths: women's struggle for voice and wellbeing in Irish maternity services in, editor(s)Aideen Quilty, Catherine Conlon, Sinéad Kennedy , The Abortion Papers Ireland Vol.2 , Cork, Cork University Press, 2015, pp206 - 216, [Jo Murphy-Lawless], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED

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Edwards, N. P.; Mander, R.; McHugh, N.; Patterson, J. Murphy-Lawless, J, Submission National Maternity Service Review Scotland Scottish and Neonatal Services, 2016, Notes: [pp.1-20], Working Paper, PUBLISHED
Jo Murphy-Lawless, Inquests are essential to understanding maternal deaths, Irish Independent, (25 November 2015), 2015, Review Article, PUBLISHED
Jo Murphy-Lawless, 'Fraud' and 'cover-up' exposed in failing semi-privatised Irish healthcare, Open Democracy Our NHS, 19 August 2014, 2014, Notes: [], Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Jo Murphy-Lawless and Nadine Edwards, Gordon Brown's Lies about Labour and the NHS in Scotland, Bella Caledonia, 2014, p , Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Jo Murphy-Lawless, Harsh Myths, Harsher Realities: Maternal Deaths in Ireland and the Crises of Our Maternity Services , AIMS Journal, 25, (2), 2013, p11 - 13, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Murphy-Lawless, J. , Irish inquests , AIMS Journal, 25, (2), 2013, p14-15 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Murphy-Lawless, J. , Bullying by court application, AIMS Journal , 25, (1), 2013, p14-15 , Notes: [ ], Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Jo Murphy-Lawless, The Politics of Maternity in NHS Scotland, Second Radical Independence Conference , Glasgow, 23 November , 2013, Meeting Abstract, SUBMITTED
Jo Murphy-Lawless and Rosemary Mander, Whose baby? The voluntary sector loses its way, 2013, -, Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED
Jo Murphy-Lawless, Midwifery and Obstetric Knowledge: Thinking Deeply about Birth, Essentially MIDIRS, 3, (8), 2012, p17 - 22, Journal Article, PUBLISHED


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Award Date
Travelling Fellow on Homelessness, Council of Europe 1991-1992
My expertise is in the areas of: . childbirth and maternity services . women's health . poverty and social exclusion . illegal drug use . health issues in a globalised world . health care delivery . the uses and problems of risk in scientific discourses . retrieving democratic participation at local levels I have a very strong commitment to using my role as an academic to be an engaged 'public intellectual' responsive to the need for social transformation, social justice, and analysing and mitigating what the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu has termed 'suffering in contemporary society'. I endeavour to keep these core objectives to the fore in my research agenda. My research has entailed bringing the material impacts of unmet personal and social need into sharp focus for use in the policy-making and teaching arenas where these issues should receive scrupulous evidence-based attention. I have huge experience in generating research proposals in accordance with funders' requirements. I can also attract funding for projects that fall outside commissioned research, but which can produce innovative work, such as the Motherhood and Drugs project based in Dublin's north inner city which focused on local democratic process, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Katherine Howard Foundation. My most recent work in this area has been for the North Inner City Drugs Task Force, a research project exploring the need for greater accountability in benchmarks to measure state actions on illegal drug use and social inclusion. I have an established reputation for my work on childbirth and new motherhood in Ireland and internationally. I am currently working to develop research with a team based in the Rotunda Hospital to explorer women's experiences of non-mainstream antenatal care. I have maintained and developed strong ongoing collaborative international research links. I am a member of the EU-wide research network, 'Childbirth Cultures, Contexts, and Consequences' coordinated from UCLAN in the UK. I also carry out joint research activities with the University of California, Santa Barbara, Women's Studies Department and the Birth Project Group (University of Edinburgh, Napier University and the Birth Resource Centre, Edinburgh). Between 2003 and 2007, I completed two major studies for the Crisis Pregnancy Agency (the first with my colleague, Dr Laury Oaks, an anthropologist from University of California, Santa Barbara), on young Irish women's decision-making on sex, fertility and childbearing, a project which explored the major changes in attitudes of Irish society about sex. The project was located in the School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, TCD. Findings from this project have relevance for the debate on the future of motherhood and the family, an issue that has emerged as a mainstream concern in many post-industrial societies and one on which I have also published. Dr Oaks and I are currently working to complete the book that follows from this research, The Sally Gardens: Women, Sex and Motherhood in Ireland. As a result of that work, I secured two further research projects on women and sexuality, carried out with my colleague Professor Agnes Higgins. I have broadened the scope of my initial investigations on risk and obstetric science to examine problems within contemporary science regarding risk creation and how civil societies are attempting to make sense of health problems and health risks. I have published work on the problems set by BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and FMD (foot and mouth disease). I was invited to present a paper at the TEAGASC international conference on food safety in 2004. My most recent work on risk centres on the problems and limitations of science and technology in responding to risk. I have participated as principal investigator or co-investigator ontwo proposals on the social meanings of breast cancer.