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2 PhD positions in employment careers of young and old workers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (NL)


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (NL)
The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Faculty of Social Sciences
The Faculty of Social Sciences examines the major social problems of our time from multiple perspectives. From bullying at school to dealing with transnational immigration, from the rise of populist politicians to creating a self-reliant society. Only at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam you will find all the academic disciplines needed to understand these ‘wicked problems’: alongside the traditional disciplines such as sociology, anthropology and politics, we also research and teach the new social sciences such as communication science and management & organization science. We do not settle for easy answers in our teaching and research. Our researchers and students are critical thinkers and doers who work together to devise surprising solutions to the problems of today.

Working at the Faculty of Social Sciences means working with colleagues from a range of academic disciplines in an inspiring and personal work and study environment with excellent research facilities. We employ more than 250 staff members, and we are home to around 2,500 students.

About the department of Sociology
The department of Sociology hosts over 50 fte of academic staff and organizes the bachelor and master education in sociology, as well as courses in methodology in the Faculty of Social Sciences ( The research of the department is organized in the research program Participation in Society (PARIS), that includes five theme groups: ‘Social Context of Aging’, ‘Social Inequality in the Life course’, ‘Identity, Diversity and Inclusion’, ‘Social Conflict and Change’ and ‘Philanthropic Studies’.


The 2 PhD candidates will be part of the European Research Council (ERC) project “Righting the Wrongs, A Life Course Dynamics Approach for Non-Standard Employment (DYNANSE)”, which studies how non-standard employment relates to labour market (and social) inequalities. The project develops a method to produce error-corrected employment trajectories and applies it in the study of the careers of workers with non-standard employment contracts. For this purpose, it uses register and survey data from the Netherlands, Italy and Norway. The successful candidates will work on the substantial part of the project and bridge labour market theories with the empirical analysis of large datasets. One of them will focus on the study of employment careers of young workers, while the other will focus on the careers of older workers. They will work together with a group of faculty members with diverse backgrounds including sociology, economics and survey methodology. The research will be conducted in close collaboration with the National Statistical Institutes of the Netherlands (CBS), Italy (Istat) and Norway (SSB).

About the project
Righting the Wrongs, A Life Course Dynamics Approach for Non-Standard Employment (DYNANSE)

This project studies how non-standard employment (NSE) shapes labour market inequalities by trying to resolve the question of whether NSE leads to prosperous or precarious careers. To achieve this aim, it brings three important innovations: 1) it follows a processual approach by studying how NSE affects whole employment trajectories instead of looking at point-in-time events, 2) it develops an integrative framework on the role of NSE by assessing how dynamic micro (individual career-choices), meso (organisational dynamics) and macro (institutional change) factors determine why NSE leads to prosperous or precarious careers, 3) to assess properly the role of NSE it corrects for measurement error. The 2 PhD projects focus on the second innovation and study the how individual career choices and organisational dynamics shape the careers of young (PhD project 1) and older workers (PhD project 2).

This project is embedded in the ‘Social Inequality and the Life Course (SILC)’ research group of the department of Sociology. The SILC group (led by dr. Pavlopoulos) studies inclusion and exclusion in socio-economic distribution processes (education, labour) from a life course perspective. The group’s approach is strongly quantitative, and its members are experts in statistical modelling. It consists of several researchers from the VU, the CBS and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), such as Harry Ganzeboom and Aat Liefbroer.


Deadline: 25 April 2021 (link for application)


  • MSc or Research Master degree in Sociology, Economics or a related field
  • Strong interest in research on the labour market
  • Solid background in methodology and statistics; experience with longitudinal data analysis or latent class models will be considered an asset
  • Ambitious and able to work independently and in a team
  • Excellent knowledge of the English language

The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,395 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dimitris Pavlopoulos
Position: Associate Professor and ERC Project Principal Investigator
Telephone: +31 20 59 89254

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