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Postdoctoral Socio-Legal Research Scientist at IViR

Amsterdam Law School – Institute for Information Law

Postdoctoral Socio-Legal Research Scientist at IViR
Publication date 6 February 2020
Closing date 31 March 2020
Level of education PhD
Hours 30 to 38 hours per week
Salary indication €2,709 to €4,274 gross per month, based on 38 hous per week
Vacancy number 20-080

The Institute for Information Law (IViR) is the host institution of the Blockchain & Society Policy Research Lab, founded in 2018 with the help of an ERC starting Grant by Dr Balázs Bodó.

The work of the Lab focuses on the regulatory challenges around the latest iteration of decentralized technologies, such as blockchains and DLTs. We use the term ‘blockchain technology’ as a placeholder concept for technological ordering regimes, which, among others, promise impartial, automated, and ex-ante enforcement of technology-encoded rules and norms, and thus have the potential to enable new forms of trust-dependent activities. While blockchain technologies go through the cycles of hypes and busts, the ongoing innovation in this domain produces often highly contentious, and increasingly plausible visions of how our social, political, economic relationships could be re-organized. 

The ease with which one can express and enforce norms and laws through technical means raises a number of questions best suited for interdisciplinary research. On the one hand, fully decentralized systems may lead to the emergence of quasi-sovereign, technology-regulated domains, where the rule of law faces substantial challenges. Private actors are already using highly centralized technical systems to implement and enforce their own policies. Governments are experimenting with technical systems to enhance the effectiveness of public administration, and extend control. The central research interest of the Lab is the interaction between the public and private, technical, institutional and legal modes of ordering; the ways in which they compete with, complement, or enhance each other.

At the moment, we work on legal and policy issues around decentralized systems and copyright, data protection and privacy, and law enforcement, to explore how legal uncertainty, and the un/enforceability of rights and legal obligations affect these systems’ ability to act as trustworthy trust mediators. 

Job description

As a research scientist, you’ll be working on the social and institutional aspects of trust in and by technological systems. Multiple technologies emerged to produce trust (such as global reputation systems, (self-sovereign) identity systems), or minimize the need for trust (DLTs). Trust, as produced by technical systems has many possible sources: strong cryptography, censorship resistance through decentralization, good governance, or legal legibility, certainty and compliance. Some of these trust sources, like technology governance and regulation, can complement each other. Others, such as compliance and decentralization, seem to be in contradiction. As a social scientist, you will be working with legal scholars on answering the following two questions at the intersection of trust and technology:

  • How do (decentralized) technologies produce trust or minimize the need for trust?
  • What makes these systems trustworthy?

You will answer these questions by studying various aspects of trust and trustworthiness in technological contexts.
In particular you will:

  • conduct empirical research among technology developers on the trustworthiness of technology:
    • design and implement surveys, and conduct qualitative analysis on how technology developers see the trustworthiness of technology they build and operate, and how they implement and balance different sources of trust in technological systems (system design, governance, legal compliance, etc.);
  • conduct empirical research among technology users on the topic of trust:
    • design and implement surveys among users of blockchain based systems on the issue of trust and trustworthiness;
    • conduct a qualitative analysis of the discourses around trust and DLTs;
  • work on the problem of institutional embeddedness of decentralized technical systems:   
    • conduct empirical research on how existing societal stakeholders (such as businesses, the media, various professional groups, regulators, policymakers) see the trustworthiness of decentralized technologies, and their ability to produce trust;
    • study the institutional change that may be necessary to better incorporate technical trust producers in systems of accountability and oversight; 
  • work with legal scholars on new policy proposals aimed at building trust in decentralized technologies, and between users of such systems;
  • contribute to the development of research methodology and infrastructure; 
  • organize workshops to discuss and disseminate the research findings. 

Requirements

Candidates are expected to meet the following requirements. 

You have:

  • an interest in researching social diffusion/application/regulation of digital technologies;
  • a background in one or more of the following disciplines: 
    • Sociology; 
    • Economics; 
    • Political Science 
    • Computer Science, 
    • Media studies

           with special focus on sociology of organizations, sociology or economics of innovation, or science and technology studies;

  • demonstrated qualitative, and quantitative research skills, such as expertise in survey design and analysis, discourse analysis, or digital ethnography. Skills in computational methods is a plus; 
  • experience in multidisciplinary research;
  • experience or interest in contributing to the relevant policy debates;
  • fluency in English and one other European language;
  • organizational and communicative skills;
  • willingness to attract external funding for research projects;
  • creative, critical, out-of-the-box thinking;
  • independence, reliability, autonomy;
  • willingness to work in Amsterdam.

Our offer

We offer an employment contract of 2 years with the possibility of extension subject to additional funding. The gross full-time monthly salary will be in accordance with the salary scales for Assistant professors at Dutch universities, scale 10 Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities) ranging from €2,709 to €4,274 gross per month (full-time equivalent). Secondary benefits at Dutch universities are attractive and include 8% holiday pay and an 8,3% end-of-year Bonus

What else do we offer?

  • An internationally competitive salary, funds for conducting research, and funds for conference travel, and professional literature;
  • a 2-year contract with a possibility of extension (subject to additional funding);
  • an international, interdisciplinary, inspiring and challenging intellectual environment;
  • modern facilities;
  • an opportunity to participate in Dutch and International academic and policy networks, dialogues, cooperation;
  • an opportunity to shape national and European policy;
  • autonomy, independence, respect.

About the Amsterdam Law School and IViR

The Amsterdam Law School prides itself on its international orientation and strong social commitment. This is reflected by both its research and educational activities. The Amsterdam Law School offers three Bachelor’s programmes, including the interdisciplinary English-language Bachelor Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE) in cooperation with two other Faculties, as well as a variety of Master's programmes, several of which are taught exclusively in English (i.e. International and European Law, European Private Law, International Criminal Law, and Law & Finance). The Amsterdam Law School prepares students for a wide variety of legal careers including law firms, government, business and industry, the national and international judiciary, public service, human rights advocacy, and academia. With 4000 students and over 450 staff members, it is one of the largest law faculties in the Netherlands.

The Institute for Information Law (IViR), is one of the largest and oldest research centers in the field of information law in the world. The Institute employs over 35 researchers who are active in an entire spectrum of information society related legal areas: intellectual property law, telecommunications and broadcasting regulation, media law, Internet regulation, advertising law, domain names, freedom of expression, privacy, digital consumer issues, commercial speech, AI regulation, personalization, automated decision making, et cetera. Though primarily legal in nature, the Institute has a strong interdisciplinary profile, and has a substantial number of scholars with humanities, social sciences or economics background.

Further information

For more information please contact:

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise 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.

The candidates are asked to submit:

  • a cover letter, explaining your motivation to apply for this position;
  • a CV, including a list of publications;
  • a research plan (max 3 pages); 
  • contact details of 2 referees;
  • proof of your PhD and other relevant degree(s); 
  • a writing sample of a recently written, single authored manuscript in English of no more than 50 pages (this may also include a chapter of the PHD thesis).

Interviews will be held in April 2020.

Please send in your application using the link below. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

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