Amanda’s research interests centre on the analysis of physical, discursive and classificatory violences, particularly those which are motivated by prejudice. She is a co-director of both the Hate and Hostility Research Group and the Power, Discourse and Society Research Group at the University of Limerick.
“I took a chance and specialised in sociology during my undergraduate degree. It did not disappoint. My education as a sociologist gave me a new more critical and incisive way of looking at the world around me. The cognitive tools of sociology, its theories and concepts, gave me the means to achieve a deeper understanding of the dynamics of social groups: to interrogate the distribution of power within relationships and the patterns of advantage and disadvantage that they sustain, for example. The methodological training I received was second to none, and I was taught how to use, critique and generate both textual and statistical data, and to argue persuasively for my interpretation of their significance and meaning. I was encouraged to apply this learning to topical social issues including the effectiveness of prison in addressing crime, the pay gap between women and men, intergenerational unemployment, and the status of Travellers in Irish society.”
“For my part, I am a senior lecturer in sociology at my alma mater, the University of Limerick, I research hostility towards difference, particularly crimes motivated by prejudice. I use the tools of sociology to better understand the dynamics of violence towards minorities and to produce evidence-based recommendations for improving official responses to targeted victimisation. My research is conducted with and used by national level civil society organisations advocating for the rights of minorities. My work has been referenced in the Dáil and has been discussed on radio, television and in the press. My skills as a sociologist have given me the opportunity to shape public and political debates about important social issues. As a lecturer, I have the opportunity to pass on the learning I have gained as an active researcher to a new generation of novice sociologists. I share with my students the advances to my methodological skills and the knowledge I have gained about topics from crime and policing to belonging and prejudice. Of equal importance, I get the chance to pass on my passion for a subject, which has not only given me a good career and a job that excites and challenges me, but also an orientation to social justice that informs every aspect of my life.”
Amanda’s current research projects include “The Lifecycle of a Hate Crime” funded by the European Union Directorate-General Justice under its Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme. The project proposes to examine the application of criminal laws and sentencing provisions for hate crime across 5 EU Member States, capturing best practice in the tools utilised to combat hate crime across Europe in relation to both the strategies of legal intervention and the implementation of these rules. By engaging with both actors in the criminal justice system and victims and perpetrators of hate crime, we will show how each participating State manages the prosecution of hate crime at key stages of the criminal process: (1) Proof Requirements and Making the Decision to Prosecute; (2) Court Procedure and Rules of Evidence; (3) Sentencing. The project partners include long term collaborators of the HHRG, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the University of Sussex, as well as In Iusticia from the Czech Republic, the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Umeå Universitet from Sweden.
Amanda is also PI of the Irish Research Council funded project “Inclusive Policing for Gender Variant Persons: Informing Practice, Policy and Training Developments”. Following enactment of the Gender Recognition Act, this research address pressing obstacles to full inclusion for gender variant persons in Ireland. It will illuminate the relevance to an Irish context of growing international evidence of gender variant persons’ criminal victimisation; of difficulties which gender variant persons experience in accessing justice; and of the potential for direct victimisation and revictimisation by police officers. It will achieve these goals through an online crime and victimisation survey of gender variant persons and through group interviews. The approach will be participatory and the research will be conducted with gender variant advocacy and support organisations.
There is convincing evidence that those who have experienced hate offences report a wider range of negative psychological impacts which also last longer than those exhibited by victims of non-hate parallel offences. Recent British Crime Survey findings demonstrate that victims of hate crime “were more likely than victims of BCS crime overall to say that they were emotionally affected by the incident (92% and 86% respectively) and more likely to be ‘very much’ affected (38% and 17% respectively)”; victims of hate crime reported higher levels of ‘anger’, ‘shock’, ‘loss of confidence/feeling vulnerable’, ‘fear’, ‘anxiety/panic attacks’, ‘crying/tears’, ‘difficulty sleeping’ and ‘depression’. Amanda’s research in the area of hate crime engages with the lived experience and impacts of hate crime as well as its treatment within the criminal justice system.
 Paul Iganski, ‘Hate Crime’ and the City (Policy Press 2008).
 For example, see European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, ‘Making hate crime visible in the European Union: Acknowledging victims’ rights’ (2012) available: http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2012_hate-crime.pdf accessed: 1st July 2014.
 Kevin Smith (ed.), Deborah Lader, Jacqueline Hoare & Ivy lau, ‘Hate crime, cyber security and the experience of crime among children: Findings from the 2010/11 British Crime Survey: Supplementary Volume 3 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11’ (2012) available: http://www.report-it.org.uk/files/hosb0612-2.pdf accessed: 1st July 2014, 22.