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Romantic relationships and cultural identity: understanding romantic experiences that are inconsistent with perceived cultural expectations

Project Description

Eligibility: Home UK/EU applicants who must be permanently resident in UK/EU
Interviews: 25th March 2019
Duration: September 2019 for three years
Value p.a.: Bursary equivalent to RCUK national minimum stipend plus fees (2018/19 bursary rate is £14,777)

Healthy romantic relationships contribute to the purpose and meaning of a person’s life. Under normal circumstances, romantic partners reveal more of themselves to each other as the relationship progresses. They present themselves as a couple to their family and friends and they find a comfortable place in the broader world. But what happens when a person’s sexual attraction and desire for committed union challenges the time-honoured scripts of their valued cultural identity? That person will know that danger zones are not only physical. They will know that danger zones are also psychological and exist dynamically within a socially embedded self (Hermans, 2018). Their self may incorporate seemingly contradictory ‘I-positions’ where they are genuinely committed to a particular romantic future and yet also are genuinely committed to a cultural group that prohibits that romantic future. This form of impasse can threaten a person’s self-continuity, precipitate self-reflective rumination, and challenge mental health (Aho & Guignon, 2011). The resolution of such an impasse can lead to self-acceptance, growth, and a sense of authenticity.

This Ph.D. research will use Hermans’ (e.g., 2001, 2014) theory of dialogical self and qualitative methods to understand romantic experiences that are inconsistent with perceived cultural expectations. The research could focus on a variety of relationship experiences, including (but not limited to): sexual orientation, arranged marriages, polygamy, polyamory, prohibition against divorce, cohabitation.

There is an additional requirement to undertake up to 6 hours undergraduate teaching/week during semesters and to participate in a teaching skills course without further remuneration.

For further information contact Dr. Mark Burgess

Funding Notes

Applicants should have (or be expecting) a first class or upper second-class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK or acceptable equivalent qualification in psychology or related cognate discipline (knowledge of research design and qualitative research methods is essential). EU Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre. We are prepared to consider alternative acceptable evidence of English Language ability.


How to apply:
Applications should be sent to [email protected] and should include an application form
( and a project proposal (max 2000 words) including background, aims and an outline of how those aims will be addressed. Applicants can liaise with Dr Mark Burgess when developing their proposal.

Completion of a DBS check is required on enrolment the cost of this will be covered by the University.

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