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Dr Paul O'Connor

Lecturer (Sociology)

Originally from Devon I was awarded my PhD in Sociology from the University of Queensland in 2009. I have taught Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sociology at Lingnan Univerity, and Religious Studies at Charles University, Prague. I am chiefly a sociologist of religion but explore area studies, ethnicity, and lifestyle sports. I have written extensively on Hong Kong society performing research with the Muslim community and working on issues of ethnicity. My first book Islam in Hong Kong explored the the lives of Muslims in Hong Kong. I hold strong interests in pilgrimage exploring both the Hajj and secular sacred spaces. My work on the sociology of skateboarding has included collaborating with the Pushing Boarders project and the completion of my second monograph Skateboarding and Religion.

My current research continues to explore the sociology of skateboarding and is focal on issues of Lifestyle Religion. Some of my papers are available online via ResearchGate. Please contact me if you would like access to any of my journal articles and chapters. You can also keep up to date with my projects via my website.



Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • (In Press) Hong Kong and Scalable Cultural Security, Minorities in their own lands: Cultural Security among Ethnic and Cultural Minorities in Asia, edited by Jarmila Ptáčková and Ondrej Kilmes.
  • (In Press) Women's attitudes to race in Hong Kong skateboarding, in Sports in Hong Kong, edited by Tobias Zuser and Lawrence Ka Ki Ho, Peter Lang
  • (2021) Identity and Wellbeing in Older Skateboarders. In Dupont T, Beal B (Eds.) Lifestyle Sports and Identities Subcultural Careers Through the Life Course, Routledge. 
  • (2018) Ethnic Minorities and Ethnicity in Hong Kong, in The Routledge Handbook on Contemporary Hong Kong, edited by Tai Lok Lui, Stephen Chiu and Ray Yep
  • (2017) How Does One Feel Ethnic?, in Feeling Ethnic: Visuality, Emotions, and Minority Culture, edited by John Erni, Springer. pp. 11-26,
  • (2015) Skateboard Philanthropy: Inclusion and Prefigurative Politics, in Skateboarding: Subcultures, Sites and Shifts, edited by Kara Jane Lombard, Routledge, pp. 30-43.
  • (2015) Hong Kong Muslims 2014: A Report on Current Research in the Territory, in The Localisation of Islam in China, edited by Li Chang-kuan, CUHK Press. 
  • (2012) Everyday Hybridity and Hong Kong’s Muslim Youth, in Hybrid Hong Kong, edited by Chan Kwok -bun, Routledge, pp. 250-272.

Book Reviews


Seminars and Workshops Organised



Conferences, Presentations and Media (Select)


Skateboarding in middle age: ‘It helps me switch off’, Coverage of research and brief interview in The Guardian, 7 January 2022.
Skateboarding in middle age helps people navigate depression, bond with their children and gain 'spiritual meaning', study finds, Coverage of research in Daily Mail online and Print, 4 January 2022, 5 January 2022, pg 3.
Depressed in midlife? Try skateboarding, study suggests, Coverage of research in New York Post, 4 January 2022.
Its time for UK Universities to take skateboarding seriously, Opinion piece in Times Higher Education, 13 August 2021.

Olympic Skateboarding Interview, Times Radio, 26 June 2021.

When Myths Collide: Skateboarding and the Olympics Interview with Brian Glenney and Noora Ronkainen, The Meaningful Sport Podcast, 23 July 2021.

The Sociology of Skateboarding Interview, The Sociology Show Podcast, 5 July 2021.

‘Street phenomenology:’ sensing street spots for skating, sleeping, selling, and spraying, Uncommon Senses III 2021, Sunday May 3 2021. With Professor Brian Glenney.

Proselytizing Skateboarding through a Videogame: Possibility Models & Lifestyle Religion, blog post on Popular Culture and Theology, September 21, 2020.

Can Skateboarding be a Religion?, Authored essay for Jenkem Magazine, 18 December 2019.

Hong Kong’s Minorities Face Racism From Police and Protesters, Consulted and quoted in article, Foreign Policy, November 7 2019.

Citizenship under siege in Hong Kong, Conference paper, State-Citizenship Relations in Greater Central Asia, Oriental Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, October 18 2019.

Sacred Spots: Defining Heritage in Skate Culture, Invited panel member, Pushing Boarders Malmö, Sweden, August 17, 2019

Radio interview on University of Skate Seminar, RTHK Morning Brew with Phil Whelan, February 11th 2019

Can Skateboarding Save Your City? Interviewed for article, Huck Magazine, September 2018.

Do you realise this is a Chinese School?: Expat Experiences of Enrolling in Chinese Schools in Hong Kong, Talk at the Hong Kong Anthropological Society, Friday 14th September 2018.

Skateboarding Mega-Events As Preparation for the 2020 Olympics: A Case Study of the Vans Park Series Championships in Shanghai, presented paper at ISA XIX World Congress of Sociology, Toronto, July 18, 2018.

Feng shui, fortune-tellers and zodiac signs: young Hongkongers seek solace in superstition . Interviewed for news article, South China Morning Post, 7 July 2018.

What we do is Secret: The Challenge of Writing About Skateboarding. Invited panel member and chair in Early Career Forum, Pushing Boarders conference, The Bartlett, UCL, London, 1-3 June 2018.

“Lessons from Skateboarding” Youth Hong Kong (2018) Volume 10, 1. 19-21

“Do you Realise this is a Chinese School?’, Invited talk CUHK Anthropology, Friday Seminar, 20 November, 2017.

Hong Kong Skateboarding and Network Capital, Hong Kong Political Science Association Annual Conference, Hang Seng Management Colleges, Hong Kong, 21 October 2107.

Participant Speaker on Skateboard Philanthropy, Manyminds Hk Meetup 2, Cheung Sha Wan, The Good Lab, 27 May 2017.

Overview of Skateboarding Research: Academic Workshop on History, Politics & Sociology of Sports in the Greater China, The Education University of Hong Kong, 18 May 2017.

Exploring Halal food in Hong Kong, Pleasure, Providence and Purity: An International Conference on Food and Drink in Islamic Societies and Cultures, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 27-28 April, 2017.

Dialogues in Research: Routes Roots,, and Rhythms, Cultural Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 21 April 2017.

The Relevance of Skateboarding to Hong Kong’s Urban Culture. Imagining the Future Conference, CUHK, 23-24 February 2017.

Invited Key Note on Ethnicity and Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong, and Workshops on Feeling Ethnic, Li Po Chun United World College, Peace Day, 15 February 2017.

Coming of Age: Over 40 and Still Skateboarding. Hong Kong Sociological Association Conf, Hong Kong University, 4 December 2016

Will You Eat Pork? Hong Kong Free Press, Guest Contribution, 10 May 2016.

An Overview Of Hong Kong’s Muslim Community, Diversity in Hong Kong: Exploring the Ethnic, Cultural and Religious Dimensions, (Workshop).Shue Yan University, 29th April 2016.

Research interests

I am a qualitative sociologist with interests in the sociology of religion, cultural hybridity, and lifestyle sports. Much of my work has also been involved in Hong Kong studies where I have focussed on issues of ethnicity. One of my key interests is the sociology of skateboarding. 

Presently my research is focussed on the following themes:

  • Sociology of Skateboarding
  • Lifestyle Religion
  • Secular Pilgrimage
  • Hong Kong Studies
  • Ethnicity in Hong Kong
  • Cultural Hybridity
  • Quantum Sociology

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