AHESS Orofino: Misogynist extremist violence in the UK: narratives, drivers and violent offline effects

Faculty: Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

Supervisors: Dr Elisa Orofino; Prof Samantha Lundrigan; Dr William Allchorn

Location: Chelmsford

The interview for this project is expected to take place on Friday 19 April.

Apply online by 3 March 2024

Online extremism has become one of the most pressing issues in modern times. Recent research conducted within the UK Prevent early de-radicalisation scheme has shown that all Prevent referrals received (over the last four years) have been characterised by “a certain degree of online self-radicalisation” (Orofino, 2022).

Non-violent extremist groups share the same ideological framework of the terror counterparts but they reject the use of violence. However, their ideology has proved to have detrimental effect on some individuals who have chosen to go down the terror path.

Several violent episodes have occurred over the last decade, mostly perpetrated by self-initiated individuals who were radicalised online, such as the misogynistic Plymouth shooting in 2021.

These individuals usually start their path towards violence by accessing material posted by non-violent extremist groups who legally disseminate their ideas in the online space (Keatley, Knight, and Marono, 2021).

However, the online presence of non-violent groups is often neglected in favour of an almost exclusive focus on more explicitly violent groups, which hinders a deeper exploration of this threat and its effects both online and offline (Orofino and Allchorn 2023).

In light of this lacuna and the pressing importance of studying such groups, this PhD studentship involves a mixed-methods (i.e. qualitative and quantitative) deep dive into the online subcultures that act as a common denominator for most forms of violent extremism and terrorism: extreme misogyny (otherwise referred to as the Manosphere) in the UK (Hudson and Hodgson 2020; Kimmel, 2018).

It aims to map the violent rhetoric of non-violent UK-based misogynistic groups and therefore the key threat markers that might suggest a tipping point towards violence. More precisely, this studentship has three potential areas of focus:

  1. the narratives leading segments of British population towards extreme misogyny
  2. the role of vocal extreme misogynistic groups as triggers towards violent extremism
  3. deeper insights into “Inceldom” sub-cultures in specific online eco-systems.

The ideal candidate will:

  • Have an analytical and innovative mindset, being able to identify gaps in existing knowledge and suggest improvements by regularly bringing new ideas.
  • Have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Be solution-oriented and innovative in how they approach challenges and blockers.

The following are also desirable:

  • A Master’s degree or equivalent experience in security studies, counter-terrorism, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and/or behavioural sciences.
  • Knowledge/expertise in computational analysis (e.g. natural language processing and topic modelling).
  • Knowledge/expertise in quantitative research methods (e.g. content analysis, network analysis and large-N datasets)

If you would like to discuss this research project, please contact Elisa Orofino: [email protected]

Apply online by 3 March 2024

Funding notes

The successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship which covers the tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. For 2023/4 this was £18,622 per year. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the scholarship terms and conditions. Please note that the University asserts the right to claim any intellectual property generated by research it funds.

Download the full terms and conditions.