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A university has been criticised for allowing a 'PhD in masturbation'.
Karl Andersson published an article recently detailing his investigation, which involved him masturbating to erotic Japanese comics, known as 'shota', and making notes.
According to his thesis, these comics tend to involve 'young boy characters in a cute or, most often, sexually explicit way'.
The aim of the three-month study, the visual anthropologist said, was to 'understand how [individuals] experience sexual pleasure when reading shota'.
He had initially carried out interviews and surveys, but his research hit a wall, and so he decided to take an active role in the study, copying his participants by masturbating to the comics and analysing each session.
During this time, Andersson also had a ban on any other types of porn or sex with another person.
The article, which has been published in the Journal of Qualitative Research, is titled 'I am not alone – we are all alone: Using masturbation as an ethnographic method in research on shota subculture in Japan'.
It reads: "I therefore started reading the comics in the same way as my research participants had told me that they did it: while masturbating.
"In this research note, I will recount how I set up an experimental method of masturbating to shota comics, and how this participant observation of my own desire not only gave me a more embodied understanding of the topic for my research but also made me think about loneliness and ways to combat it as driving forces of the culture of self-published erotic comics."
Andersson added that he had recently come out of a long-term relationship when he embarked on his research, which contributed to his 'eagerness'.
He went on: "For a period of three months, I would masturbate only to shota comics. For this purpose, I would use dōjinshi and commercial volumes that I have bought or been given during fieldwork in Japan.
"In short: I would masturbate in the same way that my research participants did it. After each masturbation session I would write down my thoughts and feelings – a kind of critical self-reflection – in a notebook, as well as details about which material I had used, where I had done it, at what time, and for how long.
"I would not be allowed to have any other sexual relief during this ‘fieldwork’ in my own sexuality: no regular porn, no sex with another person, no fantasies or memories – it had to be shota every time.
"I happened to live alone during this experiment, and I had newly become single after a long relationship – these factors probably contributed to my willingness and eagerness to explore this method."
Since news of the study came to light, Andersson has come in for a fair bit of criticism, with some branding it a Phd on 'w**king' and 'hugely disturbing'.
The University of Manchester has since confirmed that it had launched an investigation into the matter.
A spokesperson for the uni said: "The recent publication in Qualitative Research of the work of a student, now registered for a PhD, has raised significant concerns and complaints which we are taking very seriously.
"We are currently undertaking a detailed investigation into all aspects of their work, the processes around it and other questions raised. It is very important that we look at the issues in-depth.
"While that investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this time "