2 PhD Positions on Political Trust and Political Skepticism

2 PhD Positions on Political Trust and Political Skepticism

Published Deadline Location
30 Apr 24 May Amsterdam

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Job description

The Department of Political Science of the University of Amsterdam is looking for two PhD-candidates, to work on political trust and skepticism in the ERC-project CRITICALTRUST led by Prof. Dr. Tom van der Meer.

Political trust has been at the center of political and scientific debate for decades, reflecting ongoing concerns for a political trust crisis. The core premise of CRITICALTRUST is that trust scholars should not only distinguish between high versus low trust, but also between (dis)trust as an evaluation versus (dis)trust as a disposition. This two-dimensional interpretation has important consequences for our understanding of the operationalization, measurement, causes, and consequences of political trust. For that purpose, CRITICALTRUST will consist of a team of PhD-candidates and postdocs, embedded in a research group with expertise on political trust.

The first of the two open PhD-project focuses on understanding and explaining (perceived) trends in political trust. First, it will develop and extend a new quantitative methodological approach that allows us to assess to what extent short- and long-term macro-level trends in political trust are prudent or excessive, based on residuals to explanatory models. Systematic quantitative analysis of the residuals allows us to identify countries that systematically over- or underperform in comparison to the explanatory model; in-depth qualitative analyses of these cases then function as starting points for theory development. Second, this project aims to assess the origins of the common perception of a decline in political trust. To that purpose it will determine and explain the incongruence between actual changes in political trust and the retrospective perceptions of these changes. This project will rely on secondary (cross-national) survey data, self-collected panel survey data, and a self-designed survey or lab experiment.

The second PhD-project aims to integrate two rivaling theories that explain political trust, namely the socialization theory (people are socialized to trust) and the evaluative theory (trust is an evaluation of the object). This project will shed new light on the way people are socialized to (dis)trust. It will focus on three groups: adolescents, cohorts, and immigrants. This project will rely on primary and secondary survey data, and holds the option for the PhD candidate to design a survey experiment. Panel data will be studied with longitudinal methods; cross-national data via (cross-classified) multilevel models.

Both positions offer plenty of options for innovative ideas and primary data collection in a dynamic team environment.

What are you going to do
  • You perform empirical research on the causes or trends of political trust and skepticism;
  • You will participate in a project that consists of three PhD-researchers, two post-docs and a PI, embedded in a research group of other scholars of political trust and political behaviour;
  • You will complete at least four scientific articles, to be submitted to leading academic journals. Some of these articles will be in collaboration with other team members (including the PI, two postdoctoral research fellows);
  • You will complete a dissertation based on these articles;
  • You will contribute to collecting international comparative panel survey data and experimental data;
  • You will actively contribute to the (national and international) activities and outreach of CRITICALTRUST, such as scientific conferences and networks as well as expert meetings with policy makers and stakeholders;
  • You will contribute to collective academic publications, as appropriate;
  • You will assist with administrative responsibilities related to the project, such as organization of workshops or other project events;
  • You will be affiliated with the AISSR and will participate in its organized PhD-training. Additional methodological training is possible.
  • You will take active part in seminars of the program group and the department;
  • Your primary residence will be within commuting distance of the University of Amsterdam for the duration of the PhD project. The departments will assist with finding adequate housing and applying for visa and residence permits.

What do you have to offer
We are looking for two candidates with enthusiasm for social scientific research on political trust, and the aim to push research on this topic theoretically and empirically. This encompasses broader themes such as political support and legitimacy. Successful applicants are capable of working independently, as well as in a research team with senior and junior scholars. Experience with research on political trust (or related subjects) with affinity for comparative research is highly desirable. Because the project will also encompass analysis of primary and secondary survey data as well as experiments, experience with research design or quantitative research methods are a pre.

You have:
  • a completed MA or Research MA in political science or one of the related social sciences;
  • interest in political trust, or broader themes such as political support, public opinion, and legitimacy;
  • training in quantitative research methods (survey data, experiments), and a willingness to develop additional methodological expertise in longitudinal and/or cross-national analysis;
  • good research skills, as demonstrated by your MA thesis or other publications/assignments;
  • a commitment to academic integrity and transparency;

independent thinking and critical analytical skills;
  • original ideas for new, relevant research on political trust;
  • ambition to conduct academic research with societal impact;
  • excellent command of English in word and writing;
  • the ability to work independently as well as part of a team;
  • good communication, social and organizational skills.

In addition, you are an enthusiastic colleague who likes to share knowledge, embraces open (team) science, is curious, critical and eager to learn, i.e. one with an academic attitude.

What can we offer you
The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of four years.

The initial employment is for one year and will preferably start on 1 September 2024. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of three years, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate in four year.
We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events.

For this position the University Job Classification profile “Promovendus” applies. Your salary will be €2,770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3,539 in the final year, based on full-time employment of 38 hours per week and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities.

We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

We offer an open academic environment with varied tasks and plenty of room for personal initiative and development in an inspiring organization. You will be embedded in the collaborative research group ‘Challenges to democratic representation’ of the Department of Political Science. The Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences plays a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges facing the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Working at the UvA means working in a critical, independent, innovative and international climate, with an open atmosphere and a strong commitment to Amsterdam and its (international) society.

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

Job application
If this vacancy speaks to you, but you are uncertain whether you meet all requirements, please do apply. Given the department’s commitment to diversity, we strongly encourage applications from all qualified candidates, and specifically from people of color, with a migration background, and/or with other backgrounds underrepresented in academia.

Please submit your application by 24 May 2024. You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications should be submitted as one bundled .pdf that includes:
  • a two-page cover letter that outlines your motivation to pursue this degree and your qualifications and experience; the letter should indicate whether you prefer to be considered for PhD1 or PhD2, and how your qualifications and experience are relevant for the position;
  • a CV (curriculum vitae);
  • relevant undergraduate and graduate transcripts;
  • the contact details of two academic references;
  • a writing sample of max. 10 pages (this can be an excerpt from longer written material); this can be a publication, an essay assignment, or your MA thesis.
  • Additional materials such as recommendation letters, longer writing samples, and a short draft PhD proposal may be requested for short-listed candidates.

Please do NOT send these materials with the initial application.

The committee expects interviews to take place in early June.

Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

If you encounter Error GBB451/ GBC451, reach out to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application.

No agencies please.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • PhD
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 12943


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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