a man wearing a hoodie stares angrily

Precarious Men’s Engagements in the Manosphere: Examining Formative Conditions in the Online Construction of Toxic Masculinity

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary, tuition fees and additional allowances

Duration: Full time - between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2023

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Marcus Maloney

Project details

Informed by a ‘critically empathetic’ approach, the aim of this project is to assess the appeal of toxic online spaces among ontologically at-risk men. The 2021 mass shooting in Plymouth, UK, by 22-year-old white male, Jake Davison, brought into stark relief the frightening implications of what an increasing number of scholars critically refer to as ‘toxic’ masculinity. In the framework of this project, Davison’s story is just one of the more extreme examples of a broader pattern of men acting out in response to a gendered sense of ontological insecurity, ‘of being overwhelmed by anxieties that reach to the very roots of our coherent sense of being in the world’.

Before his crime, Davison had sought emotional support in various online spaces notorious for radicalising discontented/aggrieved, and predominately white cis-hetero, men. However, to date, research into these ‘manosphere’ spaces and communities has narrowly focused on how they propagate toxic/hateful discourses, with little attention paid to why ontologically precarious men are drawn into them in the first place, or what they glean in terms of identity and belonging. The project has important implications for both scholarly understandings of contemporary masculinities, and how men’s health interventions can better target this at-risk group.


Tuition fees, bursary and additional allowances.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills. 

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

Candidate specification

  • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English. The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.

 For further details please visit:  https://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-opportunities/research-students/making-an-application/research-entry-criteria/

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Marcus Maloney.

All applications require a covering letter and a 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

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