Postdoc for project Platform Labor: Transformations of Work and Livelihood in Post-Welfare Societies

Postdoc for project Platform Labor: Transformations of Work and Livelihood in Post-Welfare Societies

Published Deadline Location
30 Mar 1 May Amsterdam

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Job description

The Faculty of Humanities has a vacancy for a Postdoctoral researcher for the project 'Platform Labor: Transformations of Work and Livelihood in Post-Welfare Societies'.

Digital platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and are transforming how people work, create and share value, and sustain themselves in their everyday lives. Platform companies are also increasingly important in their role as institutional actors that redraw relations between market, state, and civil society. When we consider that these relations have historically been shaped by gender, class, and racial inequalities, it becomes crucial to ask how and to what extent platforms – as new sites of capital accumulation, governance, and norm-making – reproduce existing inequalities and if/how they also generate new vulnerabilities or tools for empowerment. Accordingly, the Platform Labor research project aims to determine how digital platforms are changing the organization of labor, livelihood, and (urban) governance in societies marked by retrenching welfare systems. The project consists of four subprojects, examining the following topics:

  1. the opportunities and challenges of low-income service work in the 'on-demand economy';
  2. Airbnb’s uneven impact on households, neighborhoods, and cities;
  3. the platformization of social reproduction in a participatory society;
  4. the policy challenges that arise when labor, social reproduction, and (urban) governance are increasingly impacted by digital platforms.

All projects adopt a cross-national comparative approach. The first three subprojects, conducted by the PI (1) and two PhD students (2 & 3), are rooted in ethnographic research conducted in three cities that have seen a major growth in platform-mediated 'gig' and 'sharing' economy activity: Amsterdam, Berlin, and New York City (for more information, please consult Platform Labor).

To investigate the multi-scalar policy and regulatory challenges that emerge in the context of subprojects 1-3, the Platform Labor project is looking for a postdoctoral researcher with a background in comparative public/social policy studies. The successful candidate will be responsible for carrying out subproject 4, which aims to examine to what extent and how platforms circumvent, negotiate, problematize, or indeed align themselves with existing policy measures and frameworks on local and national levels.

For example, since platform-mediated food delivery and cleaning work is highly individualized and mostly performed by people classified as independent contractors, it adds significant pressure on national institutions such as social security systems and collective bargaining agreements. Meanwhile, short-term home rental platforms such as Airbnb complicate, if not upend, existing local policies and regulations concerning tourism, housing, and urban planning. Finally, with regard to ongoing welfare retrenchment and new demands placed on ‘participating’, ‘responsible’ citizens and households, platforms become entangled with ideals of grassroots, decentralized governance and policy, in which they are expected to fulfill gaps left by public and private institutions.

The postdoctoral candidate is expected to build on the work undertaken by the project’s team members, while applying their own perspectives, approaches, and expertise to the study of the various policy and regulatory challenges of digital platforms in New York (US), Berlin (Germany) and Amsterdam (Netherlands).


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • A PhD degree in political science, policy studies, or a related field/discipline (expertise in comparative policy studies is strongly preferred);
  • outstanding research qualities manifested in a high-quality PhD dissertation and (preferably) international peer-reviewed publications;
  • demonstrable research experience with respect to labor market and welfare transitions in the United States and Europe (particularly Germany and the Netherlands);
  • demonstrable research experience with respect to urban governance/policy issues;
  • close familiarity with state of the art research on gig work and platform economies;
  • excellent written and spoken English;
  • advanced understanding of the German language;
  • keen interest in interdisciplinary research methods and approaches;
  • ability and willingness to work in a team;
  • willingness to travel abroad for conferences and workshops;
  • proven organizational, administrative and leadership skills.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 24 months.

The selected postdoctoral researcher will be employed full-time (38 hours per week) for a period of 2 years at the Department of Media Studies, Faculty of Humanities. The intended starting date is 1 September 2020. The appointment is initially for a period of one year. Contingent on satisfactory performance (i.e. completion of an academic journal article), it will be extended by a maximum of one additional year, leading to the completion of three international peer-reviewed journal articles. The gross monthly salary (on a full-time basis) will range from €3.389 during the first year to €3,773 during the second year, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities.


University of Amsterdam

With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.  

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


Faculty of Humanities –  Department of Media Studies and the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis

Research at the Faculty of Humanities is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), one of the six research schools, currently has a vacant postdoctoral position as part of the ERC Starting Grant project 'Platform Labor: Transformations of Work and Livelihood in Post-Welfare Societies', led by Dr Niels van Doorn.

ASCA is home to more than 110 scholars and 120 PhD candidates, and is a world-leading international research school in Cultural Analysis. ASCA members share a commitment to working in an interdisciplinary framework and to maintaining a close connection with contemporary cultural and political debates.


  • Postdoc
  • Language and culture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €3389—€3773 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 20-002


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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