Dave O'Brien is Chancellor’s Fellow in Cultural and Creative Industries, based in the School of History of Art, but working across several areas of study. He did his PhD in Sociology at the University of Liverpool, looking at European Capital of Culture. Before joining the University of Edinburgh Dave was Senior Lecturer in Cultural Policy at ICCE, Goldsmiths. He has a BA in History and Politics and an MA in Philosophy, both from Liverpool. 

Dave has published widely on all areas of cultural and creative industries, including cultural policy, urban regeneration, cultural work, public policy, and cultural consumption. He has also written on decision making in the British Civil Service, social mobility, and British urban policy. His most recent book, co-authored with Drs Orian Brook and Mark Taylor, is Culture is bad for you: Inequality in the cultural and creative industries. He is also the host of the New Books In Critical Theory Podcast and tweets @drdaveobrien

Dave teaches a range of modules at ECA, with a focus on inequality and on cultural policy.

Dave's research is focused on the sociology of culture, with a particular emphasis on understanding the relationship between social inequality and art and culture. Part of this research agenda is summarised in Culture is bad for you, and also in numerous recent papers that have been published in journals including Sociology, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Sociological Research Online, Cultural Trends, Sociological Review, American Behavioral Scientist, and Cultural Sociology. He is also the co-author of the Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries report and author of the influential Measuring the Value of Culture report for the UK's Department of Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). He is also the author of Cultural Policy: Management, value, and modernity in the creative industriesand co-editor of After Urban RegenerationThe Routledge Companion to Global Cultural Policy and The Routledge Critical Concepts in Culture and Media Studies: Cultural Policy.

Along with his academic work, Dave has various impact and policy engagement roles, including two ESRC IAA Fellowships with the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee, an AHRC/ESRC placement fellow at DCMS, and an academic advisory role to the Performers' Alliance and Creative Diversity All Party Parliamentary Groups.

Current PhD students

  • Louise Donoghue
  • Making art and making a living: the role of festivals in contemporary art careers

PhD Supervision Topics

Accepting applications.

  • Cultural and Creative Industries
  • Sociology of art and culture
  • Cultural Policy
  • Urban Studies

PhD supervision

Recent PhD students have studied public art in East London; Audience development and cultural policy; Urban cultural policy and Oil Culture in Venezuela; and the stratification of cultural consumption in Ireland. He welcomes inquires in any area of his expertise.