Research Associate in Rebuilding Trust in Public Discourse: The Good Speech Project

University of Manchester

A Research Associate is required to work on the H-SIF-funded project, “Rebuilding Trust in Public Discourse: The Good Speech Project”, directed by Mihaela Popa-Wyatt in the Department of Philosophy, University of Manchester [UoM].

The project starts on 1 August 2023 and the contract is for 2 years. The Research Associate will be based in the Department of Philosophy, in the School of Social Sciences.

The project seeks to explain how public discourse can generate significant social and epistemic harms and to make recommendations as to how to mend them. We will focus on oppressive speech and how it spreads online.

  • We will analyse how specific harms are brought about in the domain of hate speech about gender. Our case study will focus on how sexist and misogynistic speech in incel (involuntary celibate) communities normalises hostility and violence towards women.
  • We will show how these harms are further exacerbated online through echo chambers where users are incentivised to become radicalized.
  • We will explain these harms by combining the complementary strengths of philosophy of language, socio-political theories of social (in)justice, and theories of social change.

An interdisciplinary approach is essential to understand how speech can shift norms and re-entrench oppressive structures, and how digital environments contribute to amplify and normalize harmful speech. The single greatest problem posed today to the democratic norms of free speech and tolerance is the way oppressive forces manipulate people’s beliefs and attitudes and spread hate using social media. If we are to oppose these actors, we must understand and model their behaviours so that we can develop tools to resist them. The overarching question guiding this project is concerned with what harmful content should be combatted and how. The project will provide philosophical guidance and policy proposals.

Working under the guidance of the P.I., you will have responsibility for providing a philosophical understanding of how hate speech and in particular misogynistic speech changes social norms.

As an equal opportunities employer we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of age, sex, gender (or gender identity), ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status.  All appointments are made on merit.

Our University is positive about flexible working – you can find out more here

Blended working arrangements may be considered

Please note that we are unable to respond to enquiries, accept CVs or applications from Recruitment Agencies.

Enquiries about the vacancy, shortlisting and interviews:

Name: Mihaela Popa-Wyatt

Email: [email protected] ​​​​​​​

General enquiries:

Email: [email protected]

Technical support:

This vacancy will close for applications at midnight on the closing date.

Please see the link below for the Further Particulars document which contains the person specification criteria.

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