Netherlands: PhD Candidate for the Research Project ‘Complex contention’ at University of Amsterdam

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Job description

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology is one of the Departments in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG). Research and education are carried out by special institutes. The College of Social Sciences (CSS) and the Graduate School for the Social Sciences (GSSS) are responsible for the undergraduate and graduate teaching programmes in the social sciences. Research takes place under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), a multidisciplinary research institute, the biggest one of its kind in the Netherlands and possibly in Europe. The broad scope and pluralism of our education and research programmes are inspired by and reflect a strong degree of internationalisation.

The Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam are looking for a PhD candidate who will participate in the research project “Complex contention”, directed by Justus Uitermark and Walter Nicholls.

Project description

Recent years have seen massive protests around the world, ranging from the revolutions in the Middle East and the Spanish indignadosmovement to the global Occupy protests and the revolts in Turkey. These mobilizations have in common that they diffused with unprecedented speed in both urban and online environments. The “complex contention” research project aims to develop an approach to map and explain these waves of contention.

The research project builds upon a work on urban politics and social movements by Justus Uitermark and Walter Nicholls. Theoretically, the project aims to combine insights from relational sociology with complexity theory. Methodologically, the project aims to combine the quantitative examination of online and offline social networks with ethnography in urban settings. The successful candidate will develop the study’s research design in more detail in dialogue with the supervisors but is expected to especially focus on quantitative network analysis.

The PhD researcher will be based at the AISSR, which offers a stimulating intellectual environment across several social science disciplines. In the first year, the PhD student will participate in courses and meet with supervisors and other faculty members to develop a detailed research proposal. In the second and third year, the PhD-student will conduct and report on the research and complete the PhD-thesis.


  • Conduct quantitative analyses of social movements’ social networks and diffusion processes, using data from social media;
  • conduct focused ethnographic field research;
  • 10% teaching;
  • collaborate with supervisors and peers on research and publications on complex contention;
  • write a PhD thesis;
  • participate in the AISSR PhD program;
  • participate in conferences, workshops, seminars and other scholarly activities.


Candidates will have the following credentials:

  • a completed MA degree;
  • demonstrated ability or exceptional promise to publish in international scientific journals;
  • willingness and ability to work collegially with other members of the research team and participate actively in the activities of the project;
  • excellent written and spoken English;
  • technical  and methodological competence to collect data on, and analyze, large social networks;
  • the project involves social movements, complexity theory, relational theory, cities, social networks, and ethnography. Research experience in at least two of these fields is a prerequisite, experience in more than two of these fields will be considered an advantage.

Conditions of employment

The full-time appointment will be for a period of three years (12 months plus a further 24 months contingent on a satisfactory performance during the first year), starting 1 January 2014.

The gross monthly salary will be €2,427 in the first year and €2,664 in the third year, in accordance with the Dutch salary scales for PhD candidates. Secondary benefits at Dutch universities are attractive and include 8% holiday pay and an 8.3% end of year bonus. Non-Europeans are given an equivalent stipend.

Additional information

For any additional information, contact the principal investigator

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