Barrow, Emma Louise

Barrow,  Emma Louise
Start date:
October 2022
Research Topic:
Street Sexual Harassment and Bystander Intervention
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Rachel Swann and Melissa Mendez
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

This research aims to understand the benefits and shortcomings of bystander intervention techniques within the context of street sexual harassment. It will investigate the interplay between the online and offline worlds, and critically testing the ‘Elisian’ theory of the civilising process. In doing so, it will contribute theoretically to the literature, and methodologically, by using online methods to augment analyses of traditional methods.

The proposed study could potentially inform BI programmes and promote prosocial behaviour as a strategy of combatting sexual harassment in public spaces and virtual spaces, by reconceptualising street harassment as an abnormality, rather than an expected event (Garland, 1994). Bystander Intervention has the potential to inform policy regarding education and the promotion of prosocial behaviours in incidents of sexual harassment in public spaces (Fileborn, 2017).

By understanding the barriers faced by men preventing them from engaging in BI, we can start to tackle these issues and contribute to a community responsibility approach to street harassment prevention, rather than a personal one. This is in line with the Welsh Assembly Government’s Violence Against Women and Girls, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWGDASV) national strategy for 2022- 2026; reducing the acceptability of street harassment will impact society as a whole and reduce the prevalence of VAWGDASV (WG, 2021).

I propose to use a qualitative, phenomenological research design using a mixed methods approach:
1. Ethnographic observations of street sexual harassment in public spaces.
2. Mix-gendered focus group interviews, facilitating photo elicitation techniques.
3. A content analysis of counter-hegemonic speech within digital spaces that facilitate discussions of VAWGDASV.
4. Individual walking interviews.

Indicative Research Questions:
1. Why do bystanders of street harassment intervene/not intervene?
2. How do they intervene/not intervene?
3. How can barriers that may be inhibiting prosocial behaviour towards street harassment incidents
be irradicated?
4. How can men contribute to a ‚Äėwhole society‚Äô approach to tackling VAWGDASV?