Dr Paul Ryan



TSI Building
2nd Fl
(01) 474 7153


I joined the Department of Sociology as an Irish Research Council Post-doctoral Fellow in 2007 becoming a Lecturer in 2010. I have previously lectured at the Department of Social Sciences and Law in the Technological University Dublin and the Department of Sociology in University College Dublin from where I was awarded a PhD in 2005.

My main research and teaching interests lie within the sociology of the family & personal life, sexuality and the law. I have taught modules:on • Culture and Everyday Life (First Year), Contemporary Social Theory (Third Year), Sex, Law and Society (Third Year) • Fieldwork Methods (Second Year), Media, Culture & the Construction of Crime (Second Year) & Qualitative Research Methods (MA)

Research Interests

My main research interests lie within the sociology of the family & personal life, sexuality and the law and minority health. My earlier work has focused on LGBTI communities and the history of the movement from the decriminalisation of homosexuality to the successful campaign for gay marriage in 2015, highlighting the creation of new categories of sexual citizens and the consequences for those sexual relationships that remained outside the regulation of the state.

My Post-doctoral research, and first book, combined a documentary analysis and a life history study of letters sent to the popular agony aunt, Angela Macnamara in the 1960s and 70s. The analysis revealed how families navigated intimate decisions about dating, fertility and sexuality within the confines of a religious and legal structure, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of Irish family life.  

My current research explores sex work and regulatory regimes governing prostitution within a European context. 
 I published Male Sex Work in the Digital Age (London: Palgrave) in 2019 exploring how migrant male sex workers' use of social media has created both a flexible and ambiguous understanding of commercial sex in Ireland. The work illustrates how male sex workers use their micro-celebrity on social media (Grindr, Instagram) to construct a brand that can be converted into financial advantage within the sex industry. The digital identities that are created provide the  photographic and video material that are broadcast on new subscription platforms like OnlyFans.

I am also interested in minority health. I completed a project (with Dr. Kathryn McGarry) funded by HIV Ireland in 2020 exploring the possible consequences of new legislation (Criminal Law Sexual Offences Act 2017) on sex workers’ health and well-being. There is a specific focus on migrant female and trans sex workers and their level of engagement in sexual health services and practices such as condom use and HIV testing.

I have recently completed a project with Dr. Kathryn McGarry, Becky Leacy and Patricia Leahy, funded by the HSE and the National Office for Suicide Prevention (2021-22) developing prevention strategies for sex work communities affected by poor mental health, minority stress and suicide. 

My current research projects:

I am working on a research project being delivered by HIV Ireland, in collaboration with dental practitioners, representative organisations, and people living with HIV (PLWHIV) to improve health outcomes and quality of life for PLWHIV. The project is funded by the Gilead UK and Ireland Fellowship and Medical Grants Programme, which supports local innovation and best practices in caring for people living with HIV.

 I am also working on a project 'Moving Beyond Impossible Conversations: Sex Work and Knowledge Production in Europe' with Dr. Isabel Crowhurst (University of Essex) and Dr. Giulia Garofalo Geymonat (Università Ca' Foscari Venezia).

I welcome inquires from prospective PhD students interested in these research areas.


Research Projects

Title Role Description Start date End date Amount
'Commercial Sex in the UK & ROI: Current Knowledge and Future Challenges PI 08/03/2021 12/12/2022 9500
How can sex worker experiences inform and develop Government suicide prevention strategies? PI This proposal for collaborative research between the ISWRN, SWAI and HIV Ireland is in response to the National Office for Suicide Prevention call for proposals as part of the implementation of the Government Suicide Prevention Strategy Connecting for Life 2015-2020. Drawing on the key concept of connection as part of the Government strategy, this research aims to understand connection in relation to sex worker mental health and well-being. This proposal follows on from a recently published report from ISWRN researchers, HIV Ireland and SWAI focused on the health and well-being of sex workers in Ireland (McGarry and Ryan, 2020). Key recommendations arising this report dovetail well with the objectives for this proposal, namely: 1. To explore the issue of mental health, mental health risks and suicide prevention with sex workers 2. To develop a toolkit for suicide prevention and mental health harm reduction with and for sex workers 3. To strengthen connections amongst sex workers and empower sex working communities in suicide prevention work To this end, our guiding research question is “How can sex worker experiences inform and develop Government suicide prevention strategies?” 08/03/2021 07/03/2022 19080
Narrative Design and Player Conduct in Online Video Game Playing Communities PI 10/06/2019 03/08/2019 6500
Exploring the impact of the sex purchase ban on the health and well-being of sex workers in Ireland PI 01/03/2019 31/10/2019 8000
Knowledge Production on Prostitution and Sex Work Contexts and Processes across Europe PI 02/06/2017 22/09/2017 1000
challenges and opportunities to develop a wider knowledge of Teaching and Learning scholarship amongst lecturers of sociology in Ireland PI 02/02/2015 26/10/2015 5000


Year Publication
2019 Ryan P. (2019) Male Sex Work in the Digital Age: Curated Lives. [DOI]
2013 Ryan, P. (2013) Asking Angela Macnamara: an Intimate history of Irish lives. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2021 McGarry, K, Ryan, P, Berry, A. and Guarani, B. (2021) 'Sex worker management of their health and well-being in the context of criminalisation' In: Nothing about us without us: Giving voice to diversity in Criminological Research. Bristol : Policy Press.
2020 Ryan, P. (2020) ''The Gay Marriage Referendum in an Age of Neo-Liberalism'' In: Ireland: A Sociological Profile and Irish Society: Sociological Perspectives. Dublin : UCD Press.
2020 Ryan, P. (2020) 'Contested Knowledge: Victim Narratives, Autobiography and the Rise of Neo-Abolitionist Prostitution Policy in Ireland' In: The production of gendered knowledge. Dublin : UCD Press.
2017 Ryan P.; Huschke S. (2017) 'Conducting sex work research in a politically contentious climate: Lessons from Ireland' In: Sexualities Research: Critical Interjections, Diverse Methodologies, and Practical Applications. London : Routledge. [DOI]
2017 Ryan, P & Ward, E (2017) 'Ireland: The Rise of Neo-Abolitionism and the New Politics of Prostitution' In: Assessing Prostitution Policies in Europe. Milton Park : Routledge.
2013 Ryan, P. (2013) 'The Pursuit of Gay and Lesbian Sexual Citizenship Rights, 1980-2011' In: Sexualities and Irish Society: A Reader. Dublin : Blackhall Press. [Full-Text]
2012 Whitaker, T., Ryan, P. and Gemma Cox (2012) '‘What I Knew was What I Learnt on the Street! Irish Drug Using Sex Workers Accounts of How They Contracted HIV and Hepatitis C' In: Immunodeficiency. London : InTech.
2007 Ryan, P. (2007) 'Coming out of the dark: a decade of gay mobilisation in Ireland 1970-80' In: Social Movements and Ireland. Manchester : Manchester University Press.
2004 Cinneide, SO; Ryan, P (2004) 'Ireland: disinterested commentary, but how effective?' In: OECD and European Welfare States. Cheltenham : Edward Elgar Publishing.
2023 Ryan, P. (2023) '‘Selfies that Pay’: #OnlyFans and the Online Lives of Migrant Male Sex Workers in Ireland' In: Genders and Sexualities in the Social Sciences. [Link] [DOI]

Edited Book

Year Publication
2022 Sanders, T, Ryan, P. & McGarry, K (Ed.). (2022) Sex Work, Labour and Relations - New Directions and Reflections. London: Palgrave,

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2021 Ryan, P; McGarry, K (2021) 'I miss being honest' sex workers accounts of silence and disclosure with health care providers in Ireland'. Culture, Health and Sexuality, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2016 Ryan P. (2016) '#Follow: exploring the role of social media in the online construction of male sex worker lives in Dublin, Ireland'. Gender, Place, and Culture, 23 (12):1713-1724. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2011 Whitaker, T, Ryan, P. & Cox, G (2011) '‘Stigmatization Among Drug-Using Sex Workers Accessing Support Services’'. Qualitative Health Research, 21 (8):1086-1100. [Full-Text]
2011 Ryan, P (2011) 'Love, lust and the Irish: Exploring intimate lives through Angela Macnamara's problem page, 1963-1980'. Sexualities, 14 :218-234. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2010 Ryan, P (2010) 'Asking Angela: Discourses about Sexuality in an Irish Problem Page, 1963-1980'. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 19 :317-339. [Full-Text]
2006 Ryan, P. (2006) 'Researching Irish Gay Male Lives: Reflections on Disclosure and Intellectual Autobiography in the Production of Personal Narratives'. Qualitative Research, 6 . [Full-Text]
2003 Ryan, P. (2003) 'Coming Out, Staying In: The Personal Narratives of some Irish Gay Men'. Irish Journal of Sociology, 12 . [Full-Text]

Other Journal

Year Publication
2013 Ryan, P. (2013) 'Reappraising the Irish Sexual Repression Narrative of the 1960s: Was Ireland Different?' History Ireland, 20 . [Full-Text]

Conference Contribution

Year Publication
2021 Ryan, P. (2021) Coercive Control Practices in the Dating Lives of Queer Brasilian Sex Worker in Dublin, Ireland Queering Intimate-Partner and Dating Violence, University College Dublin and the University of Helsinki Dublin, .
2021 Ryan, P. (2021) The Impact of Sex Work Criminalisation on the Health needs of Women In Ireland CSW65 (2021) | Commission on the Status of Women Virtual Conference, .
2020 Ryan, P. (2020) Migrant male sex workers in Ireland: micro-celebrity, bespoke porn, and the rise of OnlyFans The Society of for the Scientific Study of Sexuality Virtual conference 2020: Special Interest Group (SIG): Pornography, Technology, and Sex Work Virtual Conference, .
2019 McGarry, K, Ryan, P, Berry, A. and Guarani, B. (2019) Sex worker management of their health and well-being in the context of criminalisation 12th North South Criminology Conference University College Cork, .
1998 Ryan. P (1998) 'Masculinity and Gaelic Identity' American Sociological Association San Francisco, .
1998 Ryan, P. (1998) 'Personal Narratives in Qualitative Research' International Sociological Association Montreal, .
1997 Ryan, P. (1997) Masculinity and the GAA Sociological Association of Ireland Westport, .
2019 Ryan, P. & McGarry, K. (2019) Sex worker management of their health and well being in the context of criminalisation ‘Nothing about us without us’ crime, justice and marginalised voices: North South Criminology Conference University College Cork, .
2018 Ryan, P. (2018) Two stories about sex work: representativeness and narrative hegemony in the late modern age Irish Narrative Inquiry Conference IT Sligo, .
2018 Ryan, P. (2018) The use of new social media to challenge and redefine social and legal definitions of male sex work in Ireland Conference of Irish Geographers Maynooth University, .
2017 Ryan, P. (2017) Wish List: Exploring Client Internations with Male Sex Work Online Profiles ISSACS XI International Conference: Breaking Boundaries. Sexuality, Gender, Reproduction, Health and Rights Bangkok, .
2017 Ryan, P. (2017) Exploring the Contexts and Conditions of Knowledge Production on Prostitution and Sex Work’ Displacing Sex for Sale COST Conference Aalborg University, Copenhagen, .
2016 Ryan, P. (2016) Regulating Male Sex Work in a Digital Age 10th North South Criminology Conference Maynooth University, .
2016 Ryan, P. (2016) ‘#Follow: exploring the role of social media in the online construction of male sex worker lives’ Sociological Association of Ireland Postgraduate Conference, Plenary Presentation Dublin, .
2015 Ryan, P. (2015) ‘Sexual Entrepreneurs? ‘Locating Migrant Male Sex in Contemporary Debates on Prostitution Policy in Ireland Troubling Prostitution: Exploring intersections of sex, intimacy and labour, COST Action IS1209 Conference Vienna, .
2014 Ryan, P. (2014) Locating Migrant Male Sex Workers in Contemporary Debates on Prostitution Policy in Ireland Colloquia Series Gender, Culture & Society University of Limerick, .
2014 Ryan, P. (2014) The Emotional Lives of Irish Men Merriman Summer School Ennis, Co. Clare, .
2011 Ryan, P. (2011) ‘Exploring the performance of masculinities in the lives of Irish drug using sex workers’ IASSCS VIII Conference: Naming and Framing: The Making of Sexual (In) Equalit Madrid, .
2011 Ryan, P. (2011) Exploring the emergence of democratic parenting through the pages of an Irish problem page, 1963-80 ’American Sociological Association Annual Conference Las Vegas, NV, .
2009 Ryan, P. (2009) Love, Lust and the Quest for the Affectionate Irish Male in Angela Macnamara’s Problem Page 1963-80’ Sociological Association of Ireland Annual Conference, Galway Galway, Ireland, .
2009 Ryan, P. (2009) The Informalisation of Emotions in the Intimate Lives of Older Irish Men' Turning Personal Conference, Morgan Centre for the Study of Relationships and Personal Life, Univers Manchester, UK, .
2005 Ryan, P. (2005) The Coming-Out of the Gay Movement in Ireland, 1970–80 American Sociological Association Annual Conference Philadelphia, PA, .
2003 Ryan, P. (2003) ‘Researching Sexuality: Reflections on Power and Reflexivity in the production of Personal Narrative European Sociological Association Annual Conference Murcia, Spain, .

Published Report

Year Publication
2020 McGarry, K.& Ryan, P. (2020) Sex worker lives under the law: a community engaged study of access to health and justice in Ireland. HIV Ireland, .
2023 Paul Ryan,Kathryn McGarry,; Becky Leacy Patricia Leahy (2023) Community Engagement for Suicide Prevention: Exploring Sex Worker Experiences in Ireland. Health Service Executive, .

Magazine Article

Year Publication
2011 Ryan, P; Cox, G; Whitaker, T (2011) Exploring the Performance of Masculinities in the Lives of Irish Drug Using Sex Workers. ABINGDON: [Magazine Article]


Year Publication
2010 Ryan P. (2010) Asking angela: Discourses about sexuality in an irish problem page, 1963-1980. [Reviews] [DOI] [Full-Text]
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2024) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Outreach Activities

Organisation Type Description
RTE 17/01/2017 Civic Society RTE 17/01/2017 Morning Ireland ‘The Politics of Divorce twenty years on’ [Link]
Newstalk FM 17/01/2017 Civic Society Newstalk FM 17/01/2017 The Politics of Divorce Twenty Years on’ [Link]
Mildlands Radio 103 28/05/2016 Civic Society Mildlands Radio 103 28/05/2016 CSO Figures on Fertility & Divorce
Newstalk 17/05/2016 Civic Society Newstalk 17/05/2016 Gay Marriage
RTE 06/05/2012 Civic Society RTE 06/05/2012 The History Show The Sixties in Ireland Special, [Link]
RTE 25/11/2011 Civic Society RTE 25/11/2011 RTE Radio One John Murray Show discussing Asking Angela Macnamara [Link]
Newstalk 09/01/2012 Civic Society Newstalk 09/01/2012 Sean Moncrief Show on Newstalk discussing Asking Angela Macnamara [Link]
TV3 31/01/2013 Civic Society TV3 31/01/2013 Tonight with Vincent Browne Regulating the Sex Industry [Link]