Netherlands: Two PhD Candidates in International Relations and Comparative Politics at University of Amsterdam

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Job description

The Department of Political  Sciences is one of the departments of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG). Education and research activities are carried out by special institutes. The College of Social Sciences (GSS) and the Graduate School of Social Sciences  (GSSS) are responsible for the undergraduate and graduate teaching programmes in Political Science. The research within the Department is conducted in the research programmes of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research  (AISSR).

Project description

Two positions are vacant within the ERC-funded research projectAuthoritarianism in a Global Age, directed by prof. Marlies Glasius. This project researches how authoritarian rule is affected by and responding to globalisation of (a) information and communication, (b) association, and (c) people movement. Openness to global ICT and media, international NGOs, and inflow and outflow of people have thrown up new challenges for authoritarian rulers in terms of how to control citizens. The project investigates changes in both the sustainability and the nature of authoritarian rule in relation to the erosion of decision-making autonomy at the state level posited by globalisation theorists.

The project as a whole consists of four sub-projects, with the following research questions:

  1. Whether, how and to what extent does globalisation of information and communication, association, and people movement affect authoritarian persistence? (longitudinal quantitative study, 1970-2012);
  2. how, i.e. with what policy mechanisms, do authoritarian states respond to globalisation of information and communication, association, and people movement? (qualitative multi-sited studies);
  3. how can the phenomenon of subnational authoritarianism be understood in its engagement with the democratic state and the wider world in relation to information and communication, association, and people movement? (mixed method subnational studies of states within India and Mexico);
  4. what is authoritarianism in a global age?  Reconsidering authoritarianism’s defining characteristics of low accountability and high coercion, and whether these still relate exclusively to statehood (theory study).

The two PhD candidates will undertake research within projects 1 and 3:

Position 1: Measuring authoritarianism in a global age

This project, under co-supervision of Andrea Ruggeri, will investigate through a longitudinal quantitative study of existing data sets from 1970 (or later, depending on availability and relevance) to 2012 whether, how and to what extent major increases in migration flows, major changes in the availability of non-national and non state-owned ICT and media, and major changes in the in-country operation of international NGOs affect authoritarian sustainability. In addition, it will develop a new operationalization and measurement of authoritarianism, based on existing data but better able to capture authoritarianism in its 21st century manifestation.

Candidates should demonstrate experience with data-gathering, data management and data analysis (panel data), as well as a theoretical interest in authoritarianism, democratization and/or globalisation, and excellent writing skills. Software knowledge of Stata and R is an asset.

Position 2: Subnational authoritarianism in a global age

Whilst democracy and authoritarianism have generally been understood in the literature as country-level variables, the worldwide trend towards more decentralized governance has created opportunities for the emergence of subnational regimes which often differ markedly from the national regime. Like globalised authoritarian states, these subnational regimes are confronted with the need to reformulate mechanisms of territorial control. This project, under co-supervision of Imke Harbers, will analyse subnational case studies from two democratic federations, India and Mexico. After initial data collection based on desk research, it will rely on fieldwork and interviews as well as documentary material to discover how policy relations both with national-level public actors and with global actors such as Internet providers and media consortia, international NGOs, travel organisations and diasporic associations are managed with a view to sustaining authoritarian control in the two subnational entities identified.

Tasks for both positions:

  • Empirical research and writing as necessary to produce a PhD dissertation;
  • active intellectual and organizational participation in the research team of this project;
  • publication of ISI ranked journal articles and/or a monograph with an academic publisher;
  • teaching in the Department of Political Science to a maximum of 10% of the time.


Candidates should demonstrate fieldwork experience, ideally in Latin America and/or India, relating to politically or socially sensitive topics, as well as a theoretical interest in authoritarianism, democratization and/or globalisation, and excellent writing skills. Familiarity with quantitative data analysis will be an asset.

Conditions of employment

The full-time appointment will be for a period of four years (12 months plus a further 36 months contingent on a satisfactory performance during the first year), starting 1 January 2014.

Additional information

For more information please contact:

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