Postdoctoral researcher for the Platform Labor research project
University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities

Postdoctoral researcher for the Platform Labor research project
Faculty of Humanities

Working at the UvA

Postdoctoral researcher for the Platform Labor research project

Publication date 13 June 2019

Closing date 4 October 2019

Level of education PhD

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €3,389 to €3,773 gross per month

Vacancy number 19-395


Research at the Faculty of Humanities is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), one of the six research schools, currently has a vacant postdoctoral position as part of the ERC Starting Grant project 'Platform Labor: Transformations of Work and Livelihood in Post-Welfare Societies', led by Dr Niels van Doorn.

ASCA is home to more than 110 scholars and 120 PhD candidates, and is a world-leading international research school in Cultural Analysis. ASCA members share a commitment to working in an interdisciplinary framework and to maintaining a close connection with contemporary cultural and political debates.


Project description

Digital platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and are transforming how people work, create and share value, and sustain themselves in their everyday lives. Platform companies are also increasingly important in their role as institutional actors that redraw relations between civil society, the market, and the state. When we consider that these relations have historically been shaped by pervasive gender, class, and racial inequalities, it becomes crucial to ask how and to what extent platforms – as new sites of capital accumulation, governance, and norm-making – reproduce existing inequalities and if/how they also generate new vulnerabilities or tools for empowerment. Accordingly, the Platform Labor research project aims to determine how digital platforms are changing the gendered, classed, and racialized organization of labor, livelihood, and (urban) governance in societies marked by eroding welfare systems.


The project consists of four subprojects, which examine the following topics:

  1. the opportunities and challenges of low-income service work in the 'on-demand economy';
  2. airbnb’s impact on cities and neighborhoods in terms of value production and social reproduction;
  3. the role of care platforms as emerging welfare actors;
  4. the policy and legal challenges that arise when labor and social reproduction are increasingly being rearranged by digital platforms.

The Platform Labor project addresses these topics through a cross-national comparative approach. The first three subprojects, conducted by the PI (1) and two PhD students (2 & 3), are rooted in ethnographic fieldwork research conducted in three cities that have seen a major growth in platform-mediated 'gig'  and 'sharing' economy activity: Amsterdam, Berlin, and New York City.


To investigate the legal and policy challenges of the platform-mediated organization of labor and social reproduction, examined in subprojects 1-3, a postdoctoral researcher with a background in comparative law and public policy will conduct subproject 4 during the third and fourth year of the Platform Labor project. In the first year, s/he will examine how the proliferation of labor platforms impacts ongoing welfare state transitions in The Netherlands, Germany, and the United States. For example, since platform labor is highly individualized and mostly performed by independent contractors, it puts significant pressure on waning/transforming institutions of collectivity in each country (from social security to collective bargaining agreements).


Research questions may include:

  • How can labor platforms contribute to – rather than impede on – national welfare systems that mitigate gender, racial, and class inequalities?
  • What kind of legislative and policy changes, with respect to labor and social security, would be required to facilitate or compel such contributions?

In the second year, the postdoc will investigate the regulatory challenges of short-term home rental (or 'home sharing') platforms, especially on a city level. Short-term home rental platform such as Airbnb and HomeAway complicate, if not upend, existing policies and regulation concerning tourism, housing, and urban planning, as they blur traditional boundaries between tourist and residential areas, reduce the permanent rental housing supply, and can thereby contribute to the rise of rental prices in cities dealing with the ongoing effects of gentrification.


Possible research questions are:

  • What kinds of innovative policy and regulatory tools are needed for the governments of Amsterdam, Berlin, and NYC to mitigate the negative impacts of short-term home rental platforms in (parts of) their cities?
  • To what extent can and should such tools be scaled and reproduced in other urban settings, considering the socio-spatial and (multi-level) jurisdictional specificities of these three cities?



  • PhD degree in the field of comparative law and/or public policy;
  • specialization in labor and social security law;
  • outstanding research qualities manifested in a high-quality PhD dissertation and (preferably) international peer-reviewed publications;
  • excellent written and spoken English;
  • advanced understanding of German (understanding of Dutch is preferential);
  • demonstrable research experience with respect to welfare state transitions in Europe and the United States
  • demonstrable research experience with respect to urban policy and regulation
  • close familiarity with state of the art research on 'gig' and 'sharing' economies
  • keen interest in interdisciplinary research methods and approaches;
  • ability and willingness to work in a team;
  • willingness to travel abroad for research stays, conferences and project expert workshops;
  • proven organizational, administrative and leadership skills.


Further information

For more information on the research project, please contact:

  • Dr Niels van Doorn



We will appoint the selected candidate full-time (38 hours per week) for a period of 2 years at the Department of Media Studies of the Faculty of Humanities. The intended starting date is 1 February 2020. The appointment is initially for a period of one year. Contingent on satisfactory performance (i.e. completion of an academic journal article), we will extend it by a maximum of one additional year, leading to the completion of three international peer-reviewed journal articles. The gross monthly salary (on a full-time basis) will range from €3,389 during the first year to €3,773 during the second year, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement (Cao) of Dutch universitie.


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 include:

  1. a full academic CV, including a list of publications and
  2. other documents in a single PDF file (not zipped), consisting of:
  • a detailed letter of intent stating your motivation for this position;
  • one relevant writing sample (totaling no more than 10,000 words).

Shortlisted candidates may be required to provide additional materials.

Please submit your application no later than 4 October 2019 using the link below. #LI-DNP 

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