PhD Bystanders of conflicts and emergencies

PhD Bystanders of conflicts and emergencies

Published Deadline Location
18 Apr 29 May Amsterdam

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Job description

Imagine witnessing a conflict or medical emergency on the street. What would you do? Would you intervene? And what would happen if you did?

If you are keen to know the role of bystanders in conflicts and emergencies, have the patience to carry out detailed and systematic scientific analyses, believe in societally relevant research, and enjoy working in inter-disciplinary teams, then this PhD position might be something for you.

The NSCR is hiring a three-year PhD fellow to take part in the NWO financed Vidi project “Conflicts, Violence and Bystanders in Action”, supervised by prof. Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard. The fellow will be employed by the NSCR. The proposed starting date is 1 September 2023.

The PhD projects draw on Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) recordings of bystander actions in low severity conflicts and medical emergencies. They examine what bystanders do in these situations, how their behaviour can be explained, and what effects their actions have on offenders, victims and other bystanders.
Methodologically the projects apply systematic and detailed analysis of real-life observations that involves a qualitative and a quantitative phase. In the qualitative phase, the researcher develops a catalogue of actions observed on the footage, like gesturing, pushing, blocking, touching, reconciling and grabbing. A particular attention will be paid to the behavioural repertoire associated to the expression of emotions. In the quantitative phase, the researcher applies the catalogue to code actions by everyone involved in the conflict, in order to assess meaningful patterns in the actions and to evaluate the role that emotions play in affecting the intervention dynamics.

The PhD projects contribute to the work of a larger research group that compares bystander actions across species, conflict types and contexts. This work aims at furthering our understanding of the conditions that make bystander actively intervene, their role in rule enforcement and the establishment of social order in public spaces. Bystanders can play a crucial role in helping others in public space as they are present when the police and other first responders are absent. Knowledge generated by the PhD project will contribute to the development of a “First Aid Guide” for bystanders.

Description of scientific environment

As a PhD fellow, you will benefit from the scientific environments of the NSCR. You will take part in a research group involving anthropologists, sociologists, criminologists, psychologist, biologists and artificial intelligence scientists, with connections to a larger international network. This group fosters methodological openness, curiosity about empirical questions, and commitment to do systematic and reliable empirical research. Your project will add to current studies being done by the group on street fights, robberies, conflicts involving police and citizens, and conflicts between ticket conductors and customers. For more information see the research group crime events in context and criminal events.

The position has a fixed term of three-years. Your key tasks as a PhD fellow are:

  • To manage and carry through your research project.
  • To collect and analyse data for the project.
  • To write peer-reviewed articles in English and merge them into a PhD dissertation.
  • To disseminate your research at scientific conferences and to societal partners.
  • To participate in PhD courses.


Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR)


You have:

  • A completed university degree in Sociology, Criminology, Anthropology, Behavioural Biology, Psychology or other degree in the Social Sciences.
  • A proven talent for conducting scientific research, documented by participation in a research master’s program, published scientific contributions or excellent grades for papers written during the master’s degree.
  • Strong social and organizational skills, commitment, and good communication and presentation skills.
  • Affinity with and interest in conflict, violence, and crime research.
  • Excellent active command of English, both spoken and written.

And preferably:

  • Experience with observational methods and with qualitative data analysis.
  • Experience with quantitative data analysis and statistics, e.g. multivariable linear and non-linear regression and social network analysis.
  • Experience or affinity with combining quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 3 years.

You will first receive a contract for the period of one year. If you perform well it will be extended for two extra years.

The starting salary for the first year is currently € 2,590 gross a month. You will also receive an end-of-year bonus of 8.33%, holiday allowance of 8%, good pension, discount for health insurance at Ohra, NS Business Card, allowance for relocation to the Netherlands, possibility to work part-time, generous leave regulations, 338 hours of holiday leave for a full-time appointment, parental leave, both paid and unpaid.

A pre-employment screening, including the submission of a VOG, is part of the procedure.


Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement

NSCR conducts fundamental scientific research into crime and law enforcement. Our research is substantively innovative, methodologically state-of-the-art and contributes to the solution of major societal issues in the field of security and justice.

NSCR operates at the intersection of theory, practice and policy. We focus on traditional and new manifestations of crime, testing existing theories and developing new investigative tools.

In order to play a significant role within national and international academic research, we set ourselves the following objectives:

  • NSCR aims at fundamental, interdisciplinary research into the interaction between crime and law enforcement, with an emphasis on longitudinal studies.
  • NSCR carries out academic research independently and in collaboration with scientific institutions and publishes about this in academic media.
  • In collaboration with other universities and institutions, NSCR is developing a national and international network of academic researchers by organising national and international congresses, seminars, symposia, workshops, and lectures on the latest insights.
  • NSCR plays an active national and international role in public opinion forming.
  • NSCR trains young researchers.

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) is the national research funder. The Institutes Organization of NWO (NWO-I) comprises nine national centers of expertise in specific scientific fields, from astronomy to marine research to crime and law enforcement, the research area of ​​the NSCR. The NWO institutes conduct high-quality scientific research and function as powerful national instruments in science policy. They make it possible to coordinate scientific fields for a longer period of time and to renew research in them.


  • PhD
  • Law; Behaviour and society
  • University graduate
  • NSCR PhD 18042023


Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR)

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De Boelelaan 1077, 1098 HV, Amsterdam

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