Postdoctoral Researcher in Political Microtargeting
University of Amsterdam Institute for Information Law

Postdoctoral Researcher in Political Microtargeting

Publication date 2 February 2021

Closing date 24 February 2021

Level of education University

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €3,746 to €5,127 gross per month

Vacancy number 21-065

The Information, Communication & the Data Society (ICDS) is an interdisciplinary research initiative on the way AI and algorithms affect the role, impact and regulation of information and communication in the Data Society. ICDS is a joint research initiative between the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) and the Institute for Information Law  (IViR) that receives Priority Area Funding from the University of Amsterdam.

At ICDS we are seeking a postdoctoral researcher with a legal background for an interdisciplinary team project on political microtargeting, funded by the Dutch Science Foundation.

Political actors use online information and digital technologies to develop new ways to communicate with citizens, for example Political Microtargeting (PMT). PMT is the targeting of individuals or small groups of voters on the basis of their susceptibility to a particular (type of) message as shown by big data analysis. In the Netherlands all political parties use microtargeting techniques, and these techniques are continually improving. The effects of political microtargeting for citizens and society are still far from clear, and currently there is no comprehensive approach to regulation for online PMT in the Netherlands, a situation that motivated the State Commission on the Parliamentary System in the Netherlands to urge for (regulatory) solutions. This project aims to answer three central research questions: to what extent, and under which conditions is PMT a legitimate form of political communication. How does it impact voters and society. And: should it be regulated, and how?

What are you going to do

You will conduct research in the ICDS team. The research is group based in Amsterdam, and you will be part of a larger community of communication science and legal scholars as well as ethicists and computer scientists.

You will:

  • conduct (interdisciplinary) legal research;
  • develop theoretical concepts to be tested empirically;
  • work in the broader ICDS team;
  • complete scientific papers on this topic;
  • contribute to the public debate and organize outreach activities of the project;
  • contribute to fundraising activities at the ASCoR/IViR and the project.

What do we require

  • A clear research interest in the topic of the project (documented by publications and grant applications);
  • a relevant background in information law & policy;
  • demonstrable affinity with, and basic understanding of the use of algorithms in the media domain;
  • the ability, willingness, and commitment to do autonomous work in a multidisciplinary team, including communication scholars, ethici and data scientists;
  • experience with writing grant applications and project proposals;
  • experience with organising workshops, lecture series, and similar events;
  • strong communication skills and experience with speaking to relevant national and international policy forums and media;
  • an excellent written and spoken command of English, as demonstrated by publications in English-language journals (written and spoken command of other languages, including French, German and/or Dutch is a plus);
  • a relevant PhD degree. Candidates who are due to submit their dissertation before 1 April 2021 are welcome to apply.

What do we offer you

We offer a challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. 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.

To work at the University of Amsterdam 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.

About the faculty and institutes

The University of Amsterdam’s 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 5000 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 leading research institutes in information law worldwide, and part of the Amsterdam Law School. The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) is the research institute for the Communication Science department at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity. Read More.


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

  • Prof. Natali Helberger

Our offer

The position concerns a temporary employment contract of 38 hours per week for a term of one year. If the candidate proves suitable, barring unforeseen organisational developments and assuming sufficient FTE availability, we intend to extend the term of employment with one year.

Salary depends on past education and relevant work experience, with a minimum salary of €3,746 and a maximum salary of €5,127 gross per month based on a full-time appointment for a 38-hour working week (in keeping with scale 11, as per the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary employee benefits, including a 8% holiday bonus and a 8.3% end-of-year Bonus. Because we value your continued personal development and professionalisation, we also offer excellent opportunities for study and development.

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.

Does this profile sound like you? If so, we are eager to receive your CV and covering letter. You can apply online by clicking on the link below.

The deadline for applications is  24 February 2021. Interviews will take place in week 10 (8 – 12 March).

No agencies please

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