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Brian F. O'Neill

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Based in

United States
North America

Brian F. O’Neill is a postdoctoral research scholar in the College of Global Futures and the School of Ocean Futures at Arizona State University. His research and teaching draw primarily on engagements with environmental sociology, (urban) political ecology, political sociology, and political economy. The underlying question throughout his empirical work is: what is the nature of the recent, intense interest in “green” practices invoked by climate adaptation strategies? In problematizing existing adaptation efforts, he has explored issues of environmental injustices, public opinion, and inequalities in debates around policymaking at the nexus of the water and energy sectors (e.g., rivers and dams, desalination, fisheries, wind, and natural gas). Most recently, his work has focused on the intersections of climate and ocean policies as they illuminate significant trends in the future of labor, political economy, and competing conceptions of sustainability. He also maintains a robust interest in visual theory and methodologies.

Country(ies) of Specialty

United States

Focus areas of expertise

Greenwashing Climate policy and politics Geoengineering Climate Justice

How to Connect


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

2023 (Forthcoming) Le Champ des Politiques Hydriques dans l’Ouest Étasunien. 2023. Franck Poupeau, Brian F. O’Neill, Joan Cortinas Munoz, Murielle Coeurdray, Eliza Benites-Gambirazio. Paris: Éditions du Croquant.

2022    O’Neill, Brian F. “Water for Whom? Desalination and the Cooptation of the Environmental Justice Frame in Southern California.” Online first at Environment and Planning E: Nature and SpaceDOI 10.1177/25148486221102377

·  Part of the Theme Issue: Water Matters

2022    O’Neill, Brian F. 2022. “Desalination as a New Frontier of Environmental Justice Struggle: A Dialogue with Oscar Rodriguez and Andrea León-Grossmann.” Capitalism, Nature, SocialismDOI: 10.1080/10455752.2022.2126130. Online first.[1]

2022    O’Neill, Brian F. and Matthew Jerome Schneider. “Demystifying the Global ‘Just Transition’ – On Power Strugglesand Electric Mountains.” Online first at https://doi.org/10.1177/19427786221098700. In Human Geography.[2]

O’Neill, Brian F.  (2022). “Documentary Photography as Vocation: Reflecting on Frank Cancian’s Contribution to Visual Studies.” Visual Studies. Online first at DOI 10.1080/1472586X.2021.2008815

O’Neill, Brian F. and Matthew Jerome Schneider. (2021). “A Public Health Frame for Fracking? Predicting Public Support for Hydraulic Fracturing.” The Sociological Quarterly. Vol. 62, Issue 3: 439-463. DOI 10.1080/00380253


O’Neill, Brian F. (2020) “The World-Ecology of Desalination: From Cold-War Positioning to Financialization in the Capitalocene.” Journal of World-Systems Research. Vol. 26, No. 2: 318-349. DOI 10.5195/JWSR.2020.987

·       Winner – 2021 Florian Znaniecki Award for outstanding published graduate student paper in the Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ($300) – Part of the special issue “World-systems Analysis in the Anthropocene” edited by Michael Murphy and Leslie Sklair.

O’Neill, Brian F. and Anne-Lise Boyer. (2020). “Water Conservation in Desert Cities: From the Socioecological Fix to Gestures of Endurance.” Ambiente & Sociedade. Vol. 23. DOI 10.1590/1809-4422asoc20190069r1vu2020L1AO

O’Neill, Brian F. (2019). “The Oral Tradition of Pierre Bourdieu – Classification StrugglesManet, and On the State.” International Sociology. September 2019, Volume 34, Issue 5: 526-535. DOI 10.1177/0268580919870448[3]

O’Neill, Brian F., Hany Zayed, and Heba Khalil. (2019). “‘I’d Rather be Teaching’-Transforming Injustice into Action in a Graduate Labor Movement.” Berkeley Journal of Sociology. March 2019: Vol. 63. http://berkeleyjournal.org

In February 2021, my archive of 439 black and white, 35mm film negatives that I made during this project was acquired by the Urbana Free Library Archives and Special Collections Department in Urbana, Illinois – Accession No. 2021-0013

2019    Poupeau, Franck, Brian F. O’Neill, Joan Cortinas-Muñoz, Murielle Coeurdray, and Eliza Benites-Gambirazio. The Field of Water Policy: Power and Scarcity in the American Southwest. December 2019. Routledge, New York, New York. ISBN-10: 0367192594


Boyer, Anne-Lise and Brian F. O’Neill, (2022). “Water Conservation in Arizona Desert Cities: A Socioecological Fix to the Oasis Lifestyle?” In Chloé Nicolas-Artero, Sébastien Velut, Graciela Schneier-Madanes, Franck Poupeau, and Carine Chavarochette (ed.): Luttes pour l’Eau dans les Amériques. Mésusages, Arrangements et Changements Sociaux. Chapter 11, pg. 254-274. Éditions de l’HEAL Collection n°2. Aubervilliers, France. ISBN 978-2-37154-145-0

O’Neill, Brian F., Joan Cortinas, Murielle Coeurdray, and Franck Poupeau, (2018). “Reinventing Water Conservation: Coalitions for Water Policy in the American West.” In Franck Poupeau, Lala Razafimahefa, Jérémy Robert, Delphine Mercier, Gilles Massardier, and Pedro Roberto Jacobi (ed.): Water Conflicts and Hydrocracy in the Americas: Coalitions, Networks, Policies. Chapter 10, pg. 293-326. November 2018. University of São Paulo Press, São Paulo, Brazil.

O’Neill, Brian F., Murielle Coeurdray, Franck Poupeau, Joan Cortinas, (2016). “Laws of the River: Conflict and Cooperation on the Colorado River.” In Franck Poupeau, Hoshin Gupta, Aleix, Serrat-Capdevila, Maria A. Sans-Fuentes, Susan Harris, and László G. Hayde (ed.): Water Bankruptcy in the Land of Plenty. Chapter 4, pg. 43-62. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA. ISBN: 978-1-138-02969-9.

Public Sociology

O’Neill, Brian F. (2022). “Desalination and the Political (Blue) Economy of Climate Adaptation.” EnviroSociety, March 7, 2022.

O’Neill, Brian F. and Matthew Jerome Schneider, (2021). “Fracking, Public Health, and Biden’s Green New Deal.” Special Feature in The Society Pages, July 21, 2021.

Review Essay

O’Neill, Brian F. and Matthew Jerome Schneider, (2022). “Demystifying the Global ‘Just Transition’ – On Power Struggles and Electric Mountains.” Online first at https://doi.org/10.1177%2F19427786221098700. Forthcoming in Human Geography.

Sylvain Barone. 2021. “Les Logiques Sociales des Politiques de L’eau: Leçons du Sud-ouest Américain” Revue Française de Science Politique Vol. 71. No. 2 pp. 274-278.

Corinne Delmas, “Franck Poupeau, Brian F. O’Neill, Joan Cortinas Munoz, Murielle Coeurdray, Eliza Benites-Gambirazio, The Field of Water Policy. Power and Scarcity in the American Southwest,” Lectures. Les comptes rendus, 2020, mis en ligne le 19 juin 2020.

Kenney, Douglas S. 2020. Review of “The field of water policy: power and scarcity in the American Southwest,” Routledge, 2019, by F. Poupeau et al. Water Alternatives.

Brice, Becky, Christopher Fullerton, Kelsey L. Hawkes, Megan Mills-Novoa, Brian F. O’Neill, and Wincenty M. Pawlowski. “The Impacts of Climate Change on Natural Areas Recreation: A Multi-Region Snapshot and Agency Comparison.” Natural Areas Journal. January 2017: Vol. 37, Issue 1: 86-97. DOI 10.3375/043.037.0111

Cortinas, Joan, Murielle Coeurdray, Brian O’Neill, et Franck Poupeau, « Les mégaprojets hydriques de l’ouest étasunien: histoire d’État(s) et gestion des ressources naturelles », VertigO – la revue électronique en sciences de l’environnement. Décembre 2016, Vol. 16 numéro 3. DOI 10.4000/vertigo.18085