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Pathways out of prostitution: Identity and stigma amongst those engaged in commercial sexual exploitation

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  • Full or part time
    Prof N Hopkins
    Dr B Searle
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship investigating the social and psychological factors that shape the opportunities for women involved in commercial sexual exploitation to exit prostitution. Because of the nature of this research, only female candidates can be considered.

The studentship

Funding is available (fees plus maintenance grant) to undertake research leading to a PhD at the University of Dundee (School of Social Sciences). The studentship is for three years and is suitable for an individual who holds a first degree and an MSc in subjects that provide research training in the social sciences. Candidates who do not have an MSc (or who have one that does not entail a minimum threshold of research training) are welcome to apply, and if successful, would be required to undertake an MSc providing advanced training in research methods. If this is required, extra funding to cover the period of the MSc training (fees and maintenance grant) would be provided. This opportunity is available on both a full and part-time basis. This studentship is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council via the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences. Eligibility restrictions based on residency apply.

The organisation of the project

The research is interdisciplinary bringing together expertise in the social psychology of stigma and identity (Prof. Nick Hopkins, Psychology) and expertise in resilience and well-being (Dr. Beverley Searle, Geography). Moreover the project is collaborative in nature: it is organised in conjunction with a multi-agency partnership (the Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership) that has responsibilities for, amongst other things, the protection and support of women involved in commercial sexual exploitation and challenging the demand for prostitution. The key agency within the Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership responsible for supporting women involved in prostitution in the city is the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre - Dundee and Angus (WRASAC) and the successful candidate would work closely with WRASAC staff who would be involved in co-producing the research.

The topic

Prostitution can be conceptualised as a form of violence against women which damages the women themselves and the way women in general are viewed. The damage to the women’s physical and mental health results from the physical and psychological abuse perpetrated by men who pay for sex and from the wider stigmatising and exclusionary treatment experienced from others in the women’s lived environment. The project will explore the social factors that facilitate/inhibit exiting from prostitution. It will focus on the women’s experience of stigma and how this impacts their abilities to re-conceptualise who they are and who they could be in the future. The project will involve interviews with women involved in prostitution and service providers.

Personal qualities necessary for this research

The researcher will need to build relationships with women involved in prostitution and will need to discuss experiences that are distressing. This means that the student will need to be socially skilled, non-stigmatising, and resilient. The student will also need to work effectively with staff from a range of agencies, especially those from WRASAC who are committed to challenging the demand that drives commercial sexual exploitation. The student would also need to be cleared for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme (managed and delivered by Disclosure Scotland).

Application process

Further particulars may be obtained from Nick Hopkins ([Email Address Removed]) or Beverley Searle ([Email Address Removed]). Applications should be submitted via email to [Email Address Removed]. The closing date is 26th April 2017. Applications should include a full CV which includes detailed information concerning the applicant’s research training at undergraduate and MSc level (including information about module credit weighting and contents). Applications should also include a statement (up to 1,000 words) outlining i. the reasons why they are interested in the research, and, ii. the qualities they possess that equip them for such research.

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