PhD Position in Political Representation and Diversity
University of Amsterdam Faculty of Social and Behavioural Science

PhD Position in Political Representation and Diversity


Publication date                     16 April 2019

Closing date                          24 May 2019

Level of education                  Master's degree

Hours                                   30,4 to 38 hours per week

Salary indication                     €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month, based on 38 hours per week

Vacancy number                     19-244



The Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam invites applications for a 3.5-year PhD position. The position is part of the research project 'Misrepresenting Diversity? How personal identities clash with ethnic pigeonholing in politics', led by dr Liza Mügge and funded by the Dutch National Science Organisation (NWO). This PhD project is co-funded by the Germany Institute Amsterdam (DIA).


Project description


Ideally, democracies should accommodate the citizenry’s full diversity. This especially matters for structurally underrepresented people, such as ethnic minorities with a migration background. Misrepresenting Diversity? provides a bottom-up analysis of the mechanisms that drive representation in ethnically diverse societies. It empirically investigates how citizens and politicians themselves experience diversity in politics and fill it with life. It reverses the usual telescope: instead of assuming that we can read people’s identities from their birth certificates, it researches how and with whom politicians and citizens identify, and how they give meaning to their backgrounds. Real-world representation has a strong collective dimension: individuals do not form opinions about failed or successful representation in isolation, but in conversation with others – neighbours, colleagues, family members, etc.


The PhD candidate will focus on minority citizens’ collective experience and expectations of representation in the Dutch, French and German parliaments. The aim is to reveal bottom-up experience of representation of ethnic minority groups and how this is mediated by their personal characteristics and identity. It asks: How do minority citizens collectively assess group representation? How do they define relevant groups in representational politics? The findings will show whether, and if so how, citizens believe that direct representation by politicians who are 'like them' matters.


It will use focus groups to study collective expectations that emerge out of participant discussions. Focus groups will be held in capital city neighborhoods with a high concentration of minority citizens. The project will establish how citizens delimit politically relevant groups and identities. How much does it matter to have an MP who 'looks like them'? And why (not)? How do they evaluate sitting MPs? What would representation ideally look like according to them?

What will you be doing?


The successful candidate will be expected to have a high level of competence and motivation to undertake the following tasks:

  • complete a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration;
  • develop and coordinate focus group interviews in three cities;
  • contribute (both as sole author and as co-author) to writing research papers to be submitted to academic journals;
  • regularly present intermediate research results at the UvA and at international workshops and conferences;
  • contribute to the organisation of research activities and events of the project, such as conferences, workshops and joint publications;
  • participate in the AISSR and DIA PhD programme, including attendance of courses

What do we require of you?



  • have obtained a (research) master’s degree in a field relevant to the theme of the research;
  • are a person with initiative, excellent communication skills, the ability to work independently as well as in a team and move easily between international contexts;
  • have well-developed analytical skills as well as creativity and perseverance;
  • possess good academic writing and presentation skills;
  • can demonstrate a strong interest in the topic of this PhD project;
  • are familiar with (some of the) academic literatures relevant to the project;
  • have excellent qualitative methodological skills, particularly focus group interviews, or are willing and able to acquire these skills;
  • have proven organizational skills to train and lead a team with student assistants;
  • are able to collaborate in a team with mixed method and/or quantitative scholars;
  • are able to communicate effectively in English both orally and in writing;
  • ideally have basic knowledge of one other language than English (e.g. German, French, Arabic, Turkish);
  • have a strong interest in pursuing an academic career.

What can we offer you?


A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. To work at the University of Amsterdam and the Germany Institute Amsterdam (DIA) is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.


Further Information


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


Would you like to learn more about working at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)? Visit our website.




The position concerns a temporary appointment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of 3,5 years. It is possible to extend the duration of the appointment to 4 years, with a scope of 30,4 hours per week. The initial appointment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended to the maximum of 3,5 year (38 hrs a week) or 4 year (30,4 hours a week), which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will also be tasked with teaching Bachelor's students.


Your salary will be €2,325 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €2,972 in the fourth year, based on full-time employment 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 successful candidate will begin the project on or around 1 September 2019.


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.


Applications should comprise the following materials:

  • a letter of motivation;
  • a full CV, including official grade transcripts and a copy of the relevant diplomas;
  • two letters of reference;
  • a statement of how the candidate would envision investigating the issues laid out above (1,000 words max). Contact the project leader for a complete description of the project.


These should be sent electronically in one document, preferably as a pdf-file.


The deadline for applications is 24 May 2019. Interviews will take place in June 2019. #LI-DNP

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