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Patrick O'Brien

Patrick O'Brien Dr. Patrick O’Brien earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He also received his M.A. in sociology and his B.S. in specialized studies (B.S.S.) from Ohio University. Dr. O’Brien’s dissertation, Sorry for Partying: Substance Use, Socialization, and Social Control on the American College Campus, drew upon six years of ethnographic data to examine the formal and informal control mechanisms that regulate university students’ drug and alcohol use. His research also explored shifting cannabis laws and policies, specifically examining the medicalization and legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado. Dr. O’Brien has been teaching at the college level for over a decade instructing lower-division introductory courses in sociology, criminology, deviance and social problems while additionaly creating upper-division specialty courses focusing on drugs, punishment, criminality, and the law. His primary academic interests include criminology, social control, drug laws, media, and qualitative methodology.

 Current Position

  • Assistant Professor of Sociology


  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of Colorado at Boulder (2013)
  • M.A., Sociology, Ohio University (2006)
  • B.S.S., Sociology & Criminology, Ohio University (2004)


  • O’Brien, Patrick K., Patricia A. Adler, and Peter Adler. 2016. “Deviant Identity.” Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd Edition.
  • O’Brien, Patrick K. 2014. “Social Control.” Encyclopedia of Social Deviance, edited by Heith Copes and Craig J. Forsyth. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Courses Taught

Current Course

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Social Problems


Past Courses

  • Introduction to Criminology
  • Sociology of Punishment
  • Drugs, Criminality, and the Law
  • Deviance in U.S. Society
  • Drugs in U.S. Society



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