Search type

Social Statistics

Josephine Biglin


Understanding Truth

PhD summary

The aim of the PhD is to examine the ways in which truth is created, presented and perceived with a specific focus on data and performance. The PhD is in collaboration with the Royal Exchange Theatre and will look at the way audiences and practitioners convey and understand truth and what is believable. The PhD will apply this to the recent increases in addressing ‘fake news’ with an examination of fake news and the misuse of data and ‘facts’ about migration in the EU referendum.

Key research questions include:

  • What is believable?
  • How is the truth created, presented and perceived in the fictional setting of a theatre?
  • Does a play need to be based on real events to be believable?
  • Do different audiences and people of different ages engage with truth in different ways?
  • In what ways can social science research methods and data more closely capture the truth about people’s lives?

Methodologies include:

  • A review of existing survey data on public attitudes towards truth
  • Secondary analysis on the Royal Exchange Theatres audience feedback
  • Interviews with audiences and practitioners
  • Discourse analysis of Brexit related policy and media


September 2017-2021


I am being funding by Social Statistics in the school of Social Sciences.


I completed a British Psychological Society accredited BSc degree in Psychology in 2016 from Manchester Metropolitan University. I then went on to study MSc Psychology (by research). 

My research thesis examined the role of an urban allotment in the place-making of refugees here in the UK. Whilst the project was centered around examining the relationship between displaced people and place the project highlighted issues around misrepresentation of refugees in the media and misuse of the word ‘integration’ within policy and public discourse. Furthermore the project examined the representation of marginalised groups in academic research and the question of whether academic research only marginalises further.

Throughout my studies I have been a volunteer at the Rochdale Youth Offending Service and with a local charity in Manchester that aims to provide emotional, social and practical support to asylum seekers and refugees. Within both these roles I have worked alongside, supported and researched groups of people who are consistently misrepresented within policy and public discourse. 


  • Dr Kingsley Purdem 

Contact details

Office: G45, Humanities Bridgeford Street Building