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Exploring how marginalised young people make sense of their health and relationships in the context of social media in post-Brexit Britain

Project Description

This project will explore the experiences and understandings of sexual health and relationships of young people from Black and Minority Ethnic groups and marginalised communities. The aim is to understand how young people navigate relationships and seek out information on issues such as their sexual health, in the current socio-political climate. In particular, there will be a focus on post-Brexit Britain and the issues that have/will develop in relation to access to healthcare, stricter online surveillance and heightened racism and discrimination and the human rights implications of all of these (The Guardian, 2019).

With regards to sexual health, STIs continue to be a problem, where current/mainstream support and interventions have been criticised for not being accessible to marginalised groups (e.g. Mohammed et al 2018). There is also continued criticism of public health promotion which focusses on community participation without taking into account inequalities that drive poor health, including sexual and mental health (Campbell, 2019). Concurrently young people are reported to express narrow views about sexual and domestic violence and what ‘healthy’ relationships might look like, despite more visible campaigning and cultural messaging regarding Intimate Partner/Gender-Based Violence (Roberts and Price, 2019). All of this needs to be understood in the context of exponential growth in information available globally online and the rapid growing and constantly changing use of social media amongst young people – continually changing the landscape of interpersonal communication and sexual socialization. There is a small, albeit growing evidence base that social media has the potential to provide access to novel opportunities for health interventions for those traditionally excluded from mainstream resources (Wadham et al, 2019). However, it is also acknowledged that social media can be the source of unfettered and problematic information about health and relationships (Mass et al, 2019)

How do young people develop and understand relationships in current times? How do they learn about their sexuality and their sexual health in the current political context and with access to online information and social media? This project will explore these issues with young people, taking advantage of the diverse communities in GCU Locations, namely Glasgow and London. It is anticipated that a range of participatory qualitative approaches to data collection (interviews, social media, observations, visual methods) and analyses (social constructionist and phenomenological) will be utilised. The research will also utilise the analytical lens of Intersectionality as it offers a more nuanced approach in light of continued inequalities amongst marginalised groups (Wesp et al, 2019, Kapilashrami, 2020). This type of analysis fits well with the UN SDGs of Good health and Well Being, and Reduced Inequality - to address both rights to health resources and freedom from violence and discrimination.

How to Apply
This project is available as a 3 years full-time PhD study programme with an expected start date of 1 October 2020 or 1 February 2021.

Candidates are encouraged to contact the research supervisors for the project before applying.

To apply for this project, use the following link to access the online application form, as well as further information on how to apply:

Applicants shortlisted for the PhD project will be contacted for an interview within four weeks from the closing date.

Please send any other enquires regarding your application to .

Funding Notes

Applicants must demonstrate an interest in the topic areas and experience in using qualitative methods. The applicant should be from a BME background because an essential aspect of the job involves understanding the experiences of BME people. Furthermore, there is comprehensive evidence showing that BME people face barriers to participation in pursuing further study, and there is disproportionately low participation of BME people working in this area of research. These two requirements are permitted under the Equality Act 2010’s occupational requirement exception (Schedule 9, part 1) and positive action measures (Schedule 158, part 1) respectively.


Bhopal, K. (2019). Gender, ethnicity and career progression in UK higher education: a case study analysis. Research Papers in Education, 1-16.

Campbell, C. (2019). Social capital, social movements and global public health: Fighting for health-enabling contexts in marginalised settings. Social Science & Medicine, 112153.

Kapilashrami, A. (2020). What is intersectionality and what promise does it hold for advancing a rights-based sexual and reproductive health agenda?. BMJ sexual & reproductive health, 46(1), 4-7.

Maas, M. K., Bray, B. C., & Noll, J. G. (2019). Online sexual experiences predict subsequent sexual health and victimization outcomes among female adolescents: a latent class analysis. Journal of youth and adolescence, 48(5), 837-849.

Mohammed, H., Blomquist, P., Ogaz, D., Duffell, S., Furegato, M., Checchi, M., ... & Dunbar, J. K. (2018). 100 years of STIs in the UK: a review of national surveillance data. Sex Transm Infect, 94(8), 553-558.

Roberts, N., & Price, D. (2019). Gendered Perceptions of Domestic Violence: How young females are more likely than young males to know controlling domestic violence behaviours.

Wadham, E., Green, C., Debattista, J., Somerset, S., & Sav, A. (2019). New digital media interventions for sexual health promotion among young people: a systematic review. Sexual health, 16(2), 101-123.

Wesp, L. M., Malcoe, L. H., Elliott, A., & Poteat, T. (2019). Intersectionality Research for Transgender Health Justice: A Theory-Driven Conceptual Framework for Structural Analysis of Transgender Health Inequities. Transgender health, 4(1), 287-296.

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