Postdoctoral in Socio-Legal Research Scientist at IViR

University of Amsterdam Amsterdam Law School – Institute for Information Law

Postdoctoral Socio-Legal Research Scientist at IViR

Publication date 30 July 2020

Closing date 31 August 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 20-462

The Institute for Information Law (IViR) is looking for a postdoctoral research scientist to work on trust and technology.

IViR is the host institution of an ERC starting grant by Dr Balázs Bodó, which focuses on the regulatory challenges around the latest iteration of decentralized technology networks. Within the context of that research, trust in, and by technology has emerged as one of the key concepts to be addressed through interdisciplinary research.

In particular, we see new technological infrastructures which try to produce trust in various social, economic contexts, but whose trustworthiness we can hardly be confident of, or verify.  For example, digital reputation management systems (such as rating used in e-commerce services, or reviews on platforms like Airbnb or Uber) facilitate economic transactions between strangers on a global scale. Distributed ledgers, and other decentralized technologies promise to minimize the need for trust by the automated enforcement of technology-encoded rules. Machine learning systems offer supposedly trustworthy recommendations based on the statistical analysis of large surveillance datasets. These systems produces often highly contentious, and increasingly plausible visions of how our trust-necessitating social, political, economic relationships could be re-organized around these new technological forms of trust production.  

Each of these new modes of trust production represents a usually private form of social, economic ordering. The central research interest of the Lab is the interaction between the public and private, technical, institutional and legal modes of governance; the ways in which they compete with, complement, or enhance each other. The central question we hope to address through this research is the following: how these different modes of ordering may interact, and lead to more or less trust in the technical systems we increasingly rely on to trust each other.

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 research scientist, you will be working with legal scholars on answering the following two questions at the intersection of trust and technology:

  • What are the new technological forms of trust production, and trust minimization?
  • What makes these technological systems trustworthy, or untrustworthy?

You will answer these questions by studying various aspects of trust and trustworthiness in technological contexts. In particular, we ask you to conduct empirial research related to the theoretical framework outlined in the following article (under review in a leading journal in the field): Bodó, Balázs, Mediated Trust – A Theoretical Framework to Address the Trustworthiness of Technological Trust Mediators (September 28, 2019). Available at SSRN.

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 digital 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. 


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: 
    Political Science
    Computer Science
    Media studies;
  • demonstrated qualitative, and quantitative research skills, such as expertise in survey design and analysis, discourse analysis, digital ethnography or computational methods.    
  • 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:

  • Dr Balazs Bodo

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).

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, until the position is filled.

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

No agencies please

Apply now