PhD Candidate: Ethnographic Research on Public Libraries as Social Infrastructures

PhD Candidate: Ethnographic Research on Public Libraries as Social Infrastructures

Published Deadline Location
25 Jan 20 Feb Nijmegen

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 20 Feb 2022).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Job description

As a PhD candidate, you will contribute to international, qualitative research on the formal and informal practices (or 'infrastructuring') that library staff, patrons, policy-makers and other stakeholders employ to provide, perform and maintain public libraries as important sociocultural infrastructures. The research particularly focuses on libraries in urban communities that struggle with systemic challenges such as unemployment and segregation. This position is available subject to a successful grant application.

This PhD research is part of the European JPI Urban Europe ENUTC-funded project entitled "Infrastructuring Libraries in Transformation" (ILIT). It will be executed by a consortium of academic partners in the Netherlands, Sweden (Lund University) and Austria (University of Vienna) and non-academic project partners including the European Bureau of Library Information and Documentation Association (EBLIDA) and local and regional libraries and library networks.  

The research evolves around three interrelated questions: 1) How do national, regional and local policies envision and fund libraries as sociocultural infrastructures? 2) How do libraries engage diverse local communities with the goal of advancing library innovation and transformation as an urban infrastructure? 3) How do librarians provide, practise and perform the infrastructuring of libraries?

Your task will be to contribute to the project's research goals to enhance the institutional support of libraries as sociocultural infrastructures, strengthen the capacities of libraries as local places of community and care, and amplify community librarianship as innovation driver towards community-based urban development.

You will be responsible for conducting (mainly qualitative) research on a Dutch library network using a mix of ethnographic and creative approaches, including but not limited to stakeholder and critical policy analysis, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, shadowing and co-productive zine making. You will investigate two ‘cases’ within this library network: the central library and a library located in a diverse neighbourhood with pressing systemic challenges. You will write and co-author scientific articles and complete a PhD dissertation within four years. Furthermore you will participate in conferences, workshops, seminars and other scholarly activities, and contribute to the teaching programme of the department of Geography, Planning and Environment (about 10% of your contract).


Radboud University


  • You hold a Master's degree in human geography, urban studies, sociology, political science, anthropology, library studies, humanities, or a related field.
  • You have proven interests in and knowledge of theories on public space, social infrastructure, social inclusion and/or diversity, and practice theory.
  • You preferably have an affinity for public libraries.
  • You have relevant empirical research experience, including experience with doing fieldwork, ethnography or any other relevant qualitative methodology.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English, as evidenced by a writing sample.
  • You are proficient in Dutch (so that you will be able to conduct empirical research in the Netherlands).
  • You have a proactive behaviour, and ethics of team work, solidarity and intercultural openness, and good skills in project planning.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).

  • Employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,443 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,122 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment  and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 29 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.
Additional employment conditions Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


The Nijmegen School of Management is an academic centre of research and higher learning. It has seven focus areas: Business Administration, Public Administration, Political Science, Economics, Social and Political Sciences of the Environment, Human Geography, and Spatial Planning. NSM strives for a multidisciplinary approach whenever possible.  Altogether, NSM employs 350 FTEs, 75% of whom are academics.
Both Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes are offered in the seven focus areas, which are organised in NSM's educational institute. The educational programme is characterised by small-scale teaching and provides a stimulating learning environment with an emphasis on the development of academic skills. NSM currently has approximately 5,000 students. NSM's research activities fall under the responsibility of the interdisciplinary Institute for Management Research (IMR). Under the motto 'Responsible Governance for Sustainable Societies', our researchers carry out state-of-the-art research into complex problems of governance and management, in order to explain the causes of these problems, and to use that knowledge to create potential solutions. They combine knowledge and expertise from multiple disciplines with collaboration with relevant societal actors.


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation; Education
  • Behaviour and society
  • €2443—€3122 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1182759



Houtlaan 4, 6525 XZ, Nijmegen

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you