The Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security for the Everyday at Royal Holloway University of London seeks to recruit a PhD student to explore the security needs and practices of participants in large-scale protests.
Grounded in ethnography, this project sets out to understand how information security is understood, practised, negotiated and shaped by protesters. Through extended fieldwork, it aims to engage with the social relations, structures and assemblages that underpin protesters' security needs as well as the technologies that they rely upon.
The significance of digital technology in large-scale protests is well documented in existing scholarly work. These settings, where most activities and interactions map to some form of digital communication, therefore present distinct and rich research opportunities for ethnography. Their adversarial and highly digitalised contexts, shaped by dynamic networks, provoke a series of information security questions: How is trust established - and with whom? What security expectations are held within protest groups and how do they manifest themselves? How does onboarding work? What role(s) do security technologies play within protest groups? How are concerns over infiltration of networks considered and voiced? In dynamic protest settings, responses to these questions are likely to be shaped and continuously re-shaped over time, making extended and immersive ethnographic fieldwork a particularly useful research approach.
With an emphasis on collective action and shared security goals, it is expected that the ethnographic fieldwork will explore the mundane social, political, spatial, cultural notions that underpin large-scale protests and related information security needs and practices. Moreover, it will study how technologies facilitate collective action and engage with participants through on-the-ground observation and engagements, during protests and related activities.
Qualitative social science is a key research area in the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway, with previous and current work engaging distinct populations, including refugees and migrants, seafarers, Greenlandic women, protesters. Applicants should have an interest in (information) security but come from a social science background, with at least an undergraduate degree in a field cognate to Anthropology, Human Geography, Sociology or Science and Technology Studies. Ideally, applicants will have experience in conducting ethnographic fieldwork, engaging in participant observation and/or collecting and analysing qualitative data.
Prospective applicants are welcome to discuss with Dr Rikke Bjerg Jensen and/or Professor Martin Albrecht