Postdoctoral Researcher Studying the Institutional Forms of Societal Trust in the Digital Society

Postdoctoral Researcher Studying the Institutional Forms of Societal Trust in the Digital Society

Published Deadline Location
24 Feb 15 Apr Amsterdam

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Job description

The Faculty of Law, Institute for Information Law (IViR), and the University Research Priority Area on Trust in the Digital Society (TRUST RPA: ) is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to study the institutional safeguards of trustworthy centralized and decentralized techno-social infrastructures.

The TRUST RPA is a five year long interdisciplinary research initiative to study how we trust is changing due to the emergence of new trust production technologies, and the disruption of existing trust relations.

The digital society relies on an ever-expanding network of digital infrastructures. This forces us to rethink some of our basic assumptions about one of the most fundamental resources in all interpersonal, social, economic relations: trust.
  1. Despite their widespread use, we know little about the trustworthiness of our digital infrastructures. At best it is difficult to establish their trustworthiness (such as with AI), at worst they are proven to be untrustworthy (as is the case with social media).
  2. Some of these digital infrastructures play key roles in interpersonal and societal trust dynamics. They disrupt existing trust relations and offer new ways to trust each other.
  3. Our scientific methods and theories face serious limits when it comes to the study of change of social structures, institutions, and processes under the conditions of rapid technological transformation. Research on trust in technology and trust by technology is siloed, and focuses on narrowly defined technologies (AI), or problems (system security), and lacks a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, long-term-view.
This postdoctoral position (embedded in the TRUST RPA, supervised by both the Institute for Information Law, at the Amsterdam Law School, and at least one other participating faculty) will use empirical research to study how various new technological infrastructures disrupt or can enhance existing societal (impersonal, institutional) trust relations and strive to establish new forms of trust relations in society.

What are you going to do?

The successful candidate will:
  • Conduct empirical, qualitative research (interviews, case studies, discourse analysis) on the dynamics of institutional, impersonal trust with regards to emerging digital technologies, such as digital platforms, web3 technologies, or Machine Learning based automated systems.
  • Coordinate the development, fieldwork and initial analysis of a large-scale longitudinal survey
  • Conduct work on the emerging European technology regulation framework (Digital Services Act, AI Act, Digital Markets Act) using doctrinal research, normative research and discourse analysis
  • Organize events, conferences
  • Participate in grant proposal development, international network building
  • Acquiree funding
The Postdoctoral researcher will be hired by the Faculty of Law, closely collaborating with two other postdoctoral researchers in the Trust RPA. The team will be supervised by the PIs of the TRUS RPA: Balazs Bodo, Associate Professor at the Institute of Information Law (IViR) at the Faculty of Law, Jan B. Engelmann, Professor of Neuroeconomics at the Amsterdam School of Economics, Theo Araujo, Associate Professor Communication in the Digital Society at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), Tom van Engers, Professor in Legal Knowledge Management at the University of Amsterdam, and Marc Tuters, Assistant Professor in the New Media and Digital Culture Division of Media Studies at the Faculty of Humanities.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


The successful candidate has:
  • a PhD degree in law, or social sciences (sociology, economics, political science, communication science, science and technology studies or related fields)
  • strong empirical research skills;
  • familiarity with qualitative research methods,
  • familiarity with doctrinal research or policy research;
  • good knowledge of current developments in information markets and technology;
  • academic excellence, as shown in the grade transcripts and curriculum vitae.
  • a creative mind and analytical intelligence;
  • an interest in working in a multidisciplinary team;
  • willingness to learn new knowledge, and acquire new skills required by the project;
  • excellent written and spoken command of English, and ideally knowledge of Dutch
  • interest in working on interdisciplinary topics, in interdisciplinary teams.
Candidates, who have:
  • quantitative skills, including survey development, statistical analysis, and/or
  • familiarity with R, python or any other programming language, and/or
  • big data collection and analysis skills, and/or
  • previous experience in the private or public sector
will be given extra consideration in the application process.

We strongly encourage members of broadly understood minority socio-cultural groups to apply. We believe that there are several traditionally underrepresented, but incredibly forceful perspectives, that have transformed our respective disciplines. Recent scholarship by persons of colour, feminist, intersectionalist scholars, scholars from the Global South have highlighted fundamental issues with the design, operation, and impact of techno-social systems that remained in the blind spots of mainstream scholarship. Without such contributions, serious problems, such as racial bias in AI systems, would have gone unnoticed and left unaddressed by more careful technical design and better regulation.

Conditions of employment

We offer a temporary employment contract for 38 hours per week for a period of 36 months with a probationary period of two months. The preferred starting date is as soon possible.

The gross monthly salary, based on 30,4 -38 (0.8-1 FTE) hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,960 to € 4,670 (scale 10). UvA additionally offers an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. The UFO profile Researcher 4 is applicable. A favourable tax agreement, the '30% ruling', may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment we offer you multiple fringe benefits:
  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • Multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • Multiple courses on topics such as leadership for academic staff;
  • Multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • Partly paid parental leave;
  • The possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • A pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • The possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
What else do we offer
  • the possibility to start up and grow a New Research priority Area at the UvA,
  • close working relations with five faculties of the UvA; and with TU Delft, and Erasmus University, Rotterdam
  • freedom to develop your own research agenda;
  • welcoming, international, dynamic teams;
  • an inspiring academic and professional environment in the heart of Amsterdam;
  • excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.


Amsterdam Law School

The Institute for Information Law (IViR), officially established in 1989, is one of the largest research centers in the field of information law in the world. The Institute employs over 35 researchers who are active in an entire spectrum of information society related legal areas: intellectual property law, patents, telecommunications and broadcasting regulation, media law, Internet regulation, advertising law, domain names, freedom of expression, privacy, digital consumer issues, commercial speech, AI, blockchain, et cetera. The Institute engages in cutting-edge research into fundamental and topical aspects of information law, and provides a forum for critical debate about the social, cultural and political aspects of regulating information markets.

The Amsterdam Law School prides itself on its international orientation and strong social commitment. This is reflected by both its research and educational activities. The Amsterdam Law School offers three Bachelor's programs, including the interdisciplinary English-language Bachelor Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE) in cooperation with two other faculties, as well as a variety of Master's programs, several of which are taught exclusively in English (i.e. International and European Law, European Private Law, International Criminal Law, and Law & Finance). The Amsterdam Law School prepares students for a wide variety of legal careers including law firms, government, business and industry, the national and international judiciary, public service, human rights advocacy, and academia. With 5000 students and over 500 staff members, it is one of the largest law faculties in the Netherlands.

Dr. Balazs Bodo (Associate professor, Institute for Information Law (IViR), FdR) is a social scientist trained in economics and media studies. He has been a Fulbright fellow at Stanford Law School (2006/7) and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School (2012/13). He is currently leading the Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab, an ERC Starting Grant-funded research group focusing on the legal and policy issues around decentralised techno-social infrastructures. Dr. Bodo regularly conducts big data-based qualitative studies, and is among the few socio-legal researchers at FdR who publish data sets and software code he develops in his empirical research.

Please read more about the Trust Research Priority Area here:


  • Postdoc
  • Law
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €2960 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 11262


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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