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Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Socio-legal/Empirical)

University of Birmingham - Birmingham Law School

Location: Birmingham
Salary: £30,395 to £39,609
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 9th April 2019
Closes: 2nd June 2019
Job Ref: 80750


Fixed-term for 4 years

Grade 7 Full time starting salary is normally in the range £30,395- £39,609. With potential progression once in post to £42,036 a year.

We are recruiting a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to work on an exciting research project titled Everyday Cyborgs 2.0: Law’s Boundary-work & Alternative Legal Futures. There will be three Postdoctoral Research Fellows on the project, with another also being recruited in the current round and the third to be recruited in Autumn 2020.

Everyday cyborgs are persons with attached and implanted medical devices; e.g., joint replacements, pacemakers, insulin pumps, and limb prostheses. Increasingly, these devices are smart devices. They run software and have Wi-Fi capabilities. They collect, analyse, and transmit data. Because the law takes a bounded approach to person and objects, the integration of medical devices with persons creates unexpected practical, conceptual, and normative problems for the law. This project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, aims to tackle these by challenging law’s boundary-work and radically (re)imagining its approach to the assemblage of integrated persons and integrated goods.

Some unanswered questions include:

  • (1) Should internal medical devices which keep the person alive be viewed as part of the person or mere objects (or something else)?;
  • (2) Is damage to neuro-prostheses personal injury or damage to property?;
  • (3) Who ought to control/own the software in implanted medical devices?;
  • (4) How should the law deal with risks around unauthorised third party access and hacking?

Building on preliminary research, the project team will answer such questions, using written documents, interviews, and focus groups to better understand the challenges, and test a series of imagined legal futures to assess what is practically possible and suggest solutions. The project will investigate where and why boundaries occur, examine what the pitfalls and opportunities are when these are transgressed and dissolved, and go beyond the bounded selves’ conception of persons to develop a novel account of the everyday cyborg. The research will draw on literatures and methods from a range of disciplines, including law and policy, regulatory and governance studies, political theory, philosophy, sociology, and science and technology studies.

This post is offered for four years, starting on 1st September 2019. The person appointed will have a socio-legal or other relevant empirical background. The successful candidate will lead the empirical strand of the project under the direction of the PI and in consultation with the project’s empirical advisors. This will include mapping and exploring the regulatory landscape, as well as designing and conducting interviews, focus groups, and scenario/vignette testing.

The Fellow will be expected to conduct original research, plan and coordinate research activities and programmes, publish the results of the research, supervise PhD students, and contribute to knowledge transfer, public engagement, or similar activities.

Candidates are expected to have a higher degree relevant to the research area or equivalent qualifications. An ability to work across disciplinary boundaries will be a distinct advantage.

Potential applicants should contact the project’s Principal Investigator Professor Muireann Quigley ( before applying to find out more about the project.

Closing date:  2/6/2019                    

To submit an electronic application online please click on the Apply Online button below; quote the Job Reference in all enquiries. Alternatively information can be obtained from 0121 415 9000 or visit

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