Amsterdam School For Cultural Analysis currently has a vacant Postdoc researcher position as part of the University Research Priority Area on Trust in the Digital Society (TRUST RPA
), led by main researchers Marc Tuters and Jan B. Engelmann. ASCA is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research
.What are you going to do?
The Media Studies department and School of Economics at the University of Amsterdam are looking for a jointly appointed postdoctoral researcher as part of the University Research Priority Area on Trust in the Digital Society (TRUST RPA), a five-year interdisciplinary research initiative concerned with trust production technologies and the disruption of existing trust relations. This position focuses on the latter, by tracing narratives of (dis)trust in social media datasets and by studying the underlying behaviors in human subjects.
Two recent socio-economic shocks have affected European societies: the Covid pandemic and the current war in Ukraine. Coming in rapid succession, they may have affected individuals' sense of security and their optimism about the future. In that trust binds us to one another, it can counteract these insecurities, yet European society has undergone multiple crises of trust in public institutions and in financial, scientific, and medical expertise over the last decade(s). Accordingly, recently we have witnessed the growth and spread of narratives of (dis)trust, which pose a significant challenge to liberal democratic norms. In these crises, social media technologies have served to bind people together while also, paradoxically, functioning as a primary vector for spread of narratives of (dis)trust.
This project aims to understand the dynamics by which these narratives of (dis)trust are propagated through social media and to investigate the underlying drivers that might make individuals susceptible to them. Accomplishing this necessitates a mixed-methods approach that entails a collaboration between the humanities and the social sciences: 1.) the Digital Methods Initiative (DMI) and 2.) the Center for Research in Experimental Economics and political Decision Making (CREED). Through this collaboration the project aims to bridge the gaps between different methodological perspectives.
The first part of the project will use social media to study how these narratives develop over time, through dynamics of connection, convergence, and antagonism. The objective of this part of the project is to develop a comprehensive understanding of how folk theories attribute malign intentions to institutions and experts attached to these matters of concern, which may range from climate change to the war in Ukraine, to the public understanding of science and technology. Through digital methods (such as co-hashtag semantic network analysis), this stage of the project will produce digital narratologies that will serve as an empirical baseline for the subsequent lab-based, experimental research stage of the project which studies how trust is affected in vulnerable population demographics.
Collaborating with scholars in the Behavioral Economics and Psychology department the second stage of the project differentiates between interpersonal trust, measured using economic games and questionnaires, general trust and specific trust towards governmental institutions and news sources, measured via a combination of novel and well-established questionnaires. Finally, we will assess the economic and psychological determinants of trust at an individual level, including current and projected future income, family status, social network support, levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness, as well as country-level determinants of trust, including perceived integrity of institutions and satisfaction with public institutions.
Broadly, this research will look at the dynamics and determinants of distrust and trust in times of crisis, yet applicants are invited to formulate their own specific research questions.Your tasks and responsibilities:
- collect and analyze social media data on (dis)trust narratives using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods including social network analysis and natural language processing.
- be open to working with multiple methods across disciplines between the humanities and the social sciences.
- work with interview- and questionnaire-based methods developed in collaboration with the Behavioral Economics and Psychology department
- actively pursue external funding for research, notably funding from research councils, national as well as European;
- actively contribute to and develop national and international research networks