Pedals to the People

The research problem central to my PhD project was twofold: cycling uptake in Ireland was very low in spite of valiant efforts to increase it. At the same time communications related to cycling and cyclists was widely perceived to be virulent and negative.

I applied a Social Dominance theoretical framework to understanding relationships between road user groups, and its effect on especially cyclists.

The first order of business was to establish whether the perception of communication related to cyclists being very negative was accurate. To this end I conducted an examination of the media discourse in Ireland. I took a qualitative approach and conducted a Critical Discourse Analysis, drawing also on Grounded Theory and the work of Roland Barthes to build an informed and justifiable picture of the general discourse related to cycling and cyclists in Ireland through my focus year, 2017 (in other words, I collected data that was generated in this year). The second part of the project built on the first. I used mixed methods here, designing and distributing a survey and conducting semi-structured interviews.

I passed the viva voce in October 2023 and my minor corrections were accepted in February 2024.