The Institute for Information Law (IViR), officially established in 1989, is one of the largest research centres in the field of information law in the world. The Institute employs over 25 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, et cetera.
IViR is the host institution of Dr Balazs Bodo’s ERC Starting Grant Blockchain & Society. The Blockchain & Society Research Lab is comprised of innovative scholars in the field of technology governance, who speak and understand the language of multiple academic disciplines and discourses, and are able to bridge academic research and practice.
2017 was the year of bitcoin, and blockchain based applications in general. The hype around cryptocurrencies, and the promising technical design of blockchain technologies pushed the idea of the Distributed Ledger Technology beyond the narrow confines of finance, and enabled its use in other social domains. Entrepreneurs, blockchain enthusiasts, libertarian technologists, governments, and blue chip corporations try to express and/or re-design complex social, economic, political and legal institutions, practices using digital tokens, distributed ledgers, and smart contracts.
Millions already use blockchain-based services every day, and many public services and private institutions are trying to cope with the (promise of) disruption. Despite the wide spectrum of blockchain applications and their ability to disrupt fundamental societal processes and institutions, there is very little research on their non-technical, societal, economic, policy and legal implications.
The goal of the Blockchain & Society Research Lab is to look beyond the short-term hype, and assess the impact of blockchain innovation from a long-term societal perspective.
Project and job description
As a research scientist, you will be responsible for the Lab’s activities that monitor the social diffusion of blockchain technologies ('Social Monitor').
The Lab’s Social Monitor will document and analyze the process of social construction of blockchain technology. It will trace and explain the process through which various stakeholders in a social domain – incumbents, outsider-disruptors, regulators, commentators, laymen, academics, etc. – understand, discuss, give meaning to, adopt, and domesticate this new and potentially disruptive technology. This social construction process is well underway (but hardly studied) in the context of finance and cryptocurrencies. The goal of the Social Monitor’s activity is to analyze, from the very beginning, this adoption process in social domains beyond finance.
As the leader of the Lab’s Social Monitor, you will
- observe the discourse and emerging social consensus around blockchain technology via the collection of the documents of this process:
- the public discourse in the popular press, trade publications, and specialized online for a;
- the analyses in white papers, reports, academic and business studies;
- the public statements of stakeholders expressed in talks, workshops, fairs and conferences;
- the ideas, attitudes, fears, expectations, strategies formulated in semi-structured interviews with stakeholders, policymakers, and other involved/affected parties.
- conduct qualitative, thematic analysis of these documents;
- assess the opportunities and limits of tokenization;
- map the social conditions of decentralization and disintermediation;
- analyze the limits of transformation of our traditional (public, private) intermediaries;
- contribute to the development of research methodology and infrastructure;
- help organize a workshop series on the research findings;
- help create an online curriculum.
Candidates are expected to meet the following requirements. You have:
- a Ph.D.;
- multidisciplinary background with training in any two of the following disciplines:
- Political Science and/or Computer Science, with special focus on sociology of organizations, sociology or economics of innovation, or science and technology studies;
- demonstrated qualitative, discourse analysis/ethnography skills with expertise in computational text collection and analysis methods;
- experience or interest in multidisciplinary research;
- a demonstrated track record of researching social diffusion/application of digital technologies;
- experience or demonstrated interest in contributing to the relevant policy debates;
- fluency in English and preferably one other major European language;
- demonstrable organizational and communicative skills;
- willingness to attract external funding for research projects;
- creative, critical, out-of-the-box thinking;
- independence, reliability, autonomy.
For further information, please contact:
- Dr Balazs Bodo, Institute for information Law, UvA
The appointment is for 0.5 to 1.0 FTE, depending on the candidate, his/her skills, and other obligations. Candidates who wish to maintain their current, active involvement in blockchain related practice are encouraged to apply for a part-time appointment.
The position is initially for 2 years, with an opportunity to extend the appointment for an extra 2 years, subject to satisfactory performance.
The gross full-time monthly salary will be in accordance with the salary scales for postdoctoral researchers at Dutch universities, scales 10 and 11, ranging from €2,588 up to €4,757. Secondary benefits at Dutch universities are attractive and include 8% holiday pay and an 8.3% end of year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.
We are building a culturally diverse Lab, and every qualified applicant will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, disabled status, or genetic information.
To apply please submit the following items (preferably in one file) in Word or PDF format electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org attn. selection committee:
- your CV;
- a letter of motivation;
- a written piece of max. 25 pages (e.g. a published paper), and/or code library;
- two references (academic or practice);
- a short research proposal (2000 words max), which sets out questions you would like to investigate in the context of our research framework and linked to the particular research strand mentioned. Locate these in the relevant literature and indicate the method you intend to use to answer the research questions indicated.
Only complete applications will be considered.
The closing date for receipt of applications is 28 February, 2018.