Postdoctoral Research Position in Ethnographic Research on Social Trust, Social Capital, and the Romanian Welfare State 952424

Department of Global Studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University

Applicants are invited to apply for a two-year postdoctoral position that will start 1st July 2018 (or as soon as possible thereafter), to research ethnographically social capital and trust in the Romanian welfare state context.

Place of employment: Jens Chr. Skous Vej 3-7, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

The research project
The funding for this two-year post has been generously made available by the Aarhus University Research Foundation (Aarhus Universitets Forskningsfond), through the project entitled “
Observing social trust in the everyday workings of welfare states – Romania and Denmark compared (OSTWEL)”. More information can be found here:

The successful applicant will join the Department of Global Studies (School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University) and a small research team led by associate professor Jeremy Morris. The project proposes an empirically-grounded approach to analyse and understand social trust by examining citizen–street-level bureaucrat (SLB) analogous interactions in two ‘polar-opposite’ trust societies (Denmark + Romania).

Aarhus University has a solid research infrastructure that includes close collaboration between area and historical studies, in the Department of Global Studies, and the Department of Anthropology – both in the School of Culture and Societies.
Research and postdoctoral project

The project envisages the Postdoc undertaking ethnographic fieldwork (4-6 months) focusing on social welfare access; parallel in-depth interviews with bureaucrats and claimants in Romania, and analyses of existing national and European social attitudes survey data focusing on social trust. Hypotheses and detailed research questions are necessarily grounded and inductive.

The conceptual problem of trust (whether ‘generalised’ or ‘particularised’) is compounded by the lack of empirical grounding in existing research. The project therefore proposes a methodological departure in examining trust from an ethnographic perspective, triangulated with existing survey data and interrogating existing theory, thus resulting in a multi-level/multi-approach analysis.

To do this, the project focusses on micro-level trust in Street Level Bureaucrat – applicant encounters which entail discretion, flexibility, and uncertainty. Therefore, they are a natural lab for the manifestation of social trust and capital(s), and a test of how they work in practice, particularly in ‘low trust’ societies like those in former-Eastern Bloc countries.

Qualifications and job requirements
Applicants for the position must hold a PhD or equivalent qualification in a relevant subject (sociology, social anthropology, social policy or equivalent) and should also document:
•    Experience of field-work driven qualitative social research leading to international publications
•    More specifically, skills and a track record in initiating qualitative fieldwork in bureaucratic contexts (public-sector, MGOs, municipalities) related to the state provision of social security or a similar context (e.g. housing)
•    an international research profile, as well as excellent research quality
•    the ability to work independently as well as in collaboration within a research team
•    excellent spoken and written Romanian language skills. Hungarian skills desirable, as research planned in Transylvanian regions.

The successful candidate will be expected, under the guidance of the team leader (Principle Investigator) to develop their research within the framework provided by the grant awarded and while some of the tasks and research frames are pre-defined, the Postdoc will be expected to contribute original research ideas. In addition the candidate will collaborate in research analysis and publications together with the team leader and Danish-context PhD; be expected to present their research at international meetings and publish results in peer-reviewed international scientific journals in a timely fashion.

The application must be uploaded in English, and must elaborate in 1-2 A4 pages (less than 1000 words) how the applicant would theoretically approach, methodologically plan for, and anticipate their research findings for this project. The proposal must be uploaded together with the letter of application.

For further information about the position, please contact Associate Professor Jeremy Morris (

For more information about the application, please contact HR supporter Marianne Birn (

2 January 2018.

Institutional context
The Faculty of Arts at Aarhus University is one of the largest environments for research and education
in Northern Europe. We investigate human cultural and social forms of expression and practice. For more information on the research activities of the School of Culture and Society, please see:

Qualification requirements

Applicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.


All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background.

Location: Aarhus
Deadline: 2 January 2018
Unit: School of Culture and Society
Read the job description and apply online

Post expires on Tuesday January 2nd, 2018