Dr Jane O'Connor

Jane O'Connor

Reader in Childhood Studies

School of Education and Social Work

Jane started her professional life as a primary school teacher and moved into research due to her interests in constructions of childhood and children's relationship with the media. Jane's PhD thesis was about child stars and much of her subsequent work has focused on 'exceptional' groups of children and representations of children in the media. She was a senior lecturer in Childhood Studies at the University of Wolverhampton for six years and before that she worked as a visiting lecturer in the education department at London Metropolitan University. She joined Birmingham City University in 2013 as a Senior Researcher and became a Reader in 2015.

Current Activity
  • Writing bids for research funding
  • Undertaking research and publishing research findings
  • Leading the ‘Rethinking Childhood’ research cluster
  • Writing and editing books
  • Module leading, teaching and supervising students on the Education Doctorate (EdD)
  • Supervising PhD students
  • Working on externally funded research projects
  • Reviewing journal articles
  • External examiner for BA(Hons) Early Childhood Studies at University of Greenwich
Areas of Expertise
  • Qualitative research
  • Academic writing
  • Research supervision
  • Teaching and lecturing
  • Bid writing
  • Report writing
  • 2010 - Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning, University of Wolverhampton
  • 2006 - PhD 'The Cultural Significance of the Child Star', Brunel University
  • 1999 - PGCE Primary (3-11 years), Kingston University
  • 1996 - MA in Sociology of Contemporary Culture, University of York
  • 1994 - BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology and Sociology (2:1), University of Surrey.

Module leader for CP1 on Education Doctorate

Masters in Teaching and Learning (MTL)

Current projects
  • Technobabies: and international study of very young children’s use of touchscreen technology
  • Childhood and celebrity
  • Exchanging Notes: evaluation of an out of school music provision
Postgraduate Supervision

Jane is currently supervising PhDs in the following areas:
• Use of touchscreen devices in pre-schools
• The experiences of black African care leavers in Birmingham
• Leadership in Early Years settings


O’Connor, J. & Mercer, J. (Eds) (2017) Childhood & Celebrity. Abingdon: Routledge.

O’Connor J (2008) The Cultural Significance of the Child Star, London: Routledge.

Journal Articles

O’Connor, J. and Fotakopoulou, O. (2016) A threat to early childhood innocence or the future of learning? Parents’ perspectives on the use of touchscreen technology by 0–3 year olds in the UK. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood 17(2).

O’Connor, J. (2014) An analysis of British Newspaper Coverage of the Teenage Swimming Gold Medallists at the London 2012 Olympics. Journal of Children and Media. Volume 8, Issue 2, April 2014, pages 95-109

O’Connor, J. and McDougall, J. (2013) 'Orphans and Rich People': A Critical Analysis of the 'Children's Lives' Exhibition in Birmingham, UK. Children & Society (published first online DOI: 10.1111/chso.12025).

O’Connor, J. (2012) ‘Is it good to be gifted? The construction of gifted children in the British press.’ Children and Society Vol. 26, Issue 4, pp293-303.

O’Connor, J. (2011) ‘From Jackie Coogan to Michael Jackson: What child stars can tell us about ideologies of childhood’ Journal of Children and Media Vol.5, Issue 3, pp.284-297.

O'Connor, J. (2009) 'Beyond Social Constructionism? A Structural Analysis of the Cultural Significance of the Child Star', Children and Society Vol.2, Issue 3, pp.214-225

O'Connor, J. (2009) 'The Demonisation of Charlotte Church: Media Constructions of a Child Prodigy', Journal of Children and Media Vol.3, Issue 2, pp.136-151

Book Chapters

O’Connor, J., Fotakopolou, O., Hatzigianni, M and Fridberg, M. (2018) ‘Parents’ perspectives on the use of touchscreen technology by 0-3 year olds in the UK, Sweden, Australia and Greece’. In Palaiologou, I. (Ed) (2018 forthcoming) Digital Practices in Early Childhood Education: An International Perspective. London: SAGE.

O’Connor, J. (2017) ‘Appropriate play? Parents’ reflections on 0-3s using touchscreen technology in the home’. In Arnott, L. (2017 forthcoming) Digital Technologies and Learning in the Early Years. London: SAGE.

O’Connor, J. ‘Children and Media’ in T. Waller and G. Davies (Eds) (2014) An Introduction to Early Childhood 3 Edition. London: SAGE.

O’Connor, J. ‘The myth of ‘toxic childhood’ in J. McDougall and P. Bennett (Eds) (2013) Myth Today (and Together): Theory under Reconstruction. London: Routledge.

O’Connor, J. ‘Applying Bourdieu’s concepts of social and cultural capital and habitus to early years research’ in J. Whitmarsh, T. Waller & K. Clarke C (Eds) (2010) Making sense of theory and practice: the Power of Ideas. Abingdon: Open University Press.

Media Work

November 2016. Interviewed for an article entitled ‘Child stars: Early start or too much too young?’ Jennifer Scott, BBC Online

April, 2014. Interviewed for article entitled: ‘iBabies: Are tables and smartphones dangerous for tots to use?’ Amanda Killelea, Daily Mirror (12.8.14)

March, 2014. Interviewed for article entitled: ‘Experts raise alarm over babies addicted to iPads’. Nicola Woolcock, The Times (15.3.14).

February, 2014. Interviewed for Croatian TV documentary about Child Stardom

April, 2013. Guest on OnPoint radio show with Tom Ashbrook, ‘From Annette to Bieber – Teen Idols Then and Now’ Guest appearance on US radio show talking about child stardom

2013. Expert advisor to writer Teddy Wayne on his novel The Lovesong of Jonny Valentine (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

June 2009. Interviewed on BBC World Service Radio ‘The World Today’ programme about the death of Michael Jackson and the fate of child stars.

Links and Social Media