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2021-224-03458 Postdoc in Social studies of controversial algorithms and data

The department of Culture and Learning, Aalborg University (Copenhagen Campus) invites applicants for a 22 months postdoc position beginning September 1st, 2021, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Job description

The postdoc is part of the research project Algorithms, Data and Democracy (the ADD-project) funded by the Villum and Velux Foundations. The postdoc will be a member of the Techno-Anthropology Research Group at the Department of Culture and Learning in Copenhagen. The applicant will be work closely with Professor Torben Elgaard Jensen (co-pi) as well as with other participants in the ADD-project. The purpose of the position is to study issues of privacy and cybersecurity that have emerged around major Danish IT infrastructures such as NemID, MobilePay, SmitteApp or Rejsekortet. 

The ADD-project is a large, 10-year project conducted by partners and research groups at five Danish Universities. The project also includes a significant outreach activity organized by Mandag Morgen. The ADD-project addresses the democratic issues associated with the rapidly increasing use of algorithms in all sectors of society. A frequently voiced concern is that algorithms may lead to biased and untransparent decision making, which again may erode the trust in key societal institutions and decision-making processes. The overall aim of the ADD project is understand the processes and circumstances that give rise to controversies around algorithms, to raise the public awareness of algorithms and to promote a democratically legitimate development of algorithms in the Danish society. The project will do basic computer science research on algorithmic bias and it will conduct a substantial number of qualitative case studies of algorithm controversies in areas such as privacy & cybersecurity, public administration, finance, health and innovation practices. Further descriptions of the project can be found here: https://algoritmer.org/om-os/projektet/

The postdoc will contribute to the overall research project by conducting case studies of when, where and how the algorithms and data practices in major Danish IT infrastructures become subject to criticism, mistrust or controversy. The research involves qualitative and ethnographic studies of key stakeholders as well as an exploration of design processes, development and practical use.

In the early stages of the project, the postdoc and other members of the project team will use digital methods to generate a broad overview of types of controversies concerning data and algorithms. Later, particularly relevant cases will be selected for in-depth case studies. The applicant will independently investigate two or more infrastructure cases, but may also participate in joint empirical projects.

In the course of the project, the applicant will participate in workshops and network meetings with researchers from the partnering universities and will contribute to an on-going collective project of developing new theories and perspectives on algorithms in society.

Based his or her own empirical and theoretical work, the postdoc is expected to:

  • Publish both independently and in collaboration with the project co-pi and project participants in relevant peer reviewed journals.
  • Contribute to and assist in organizing panels at relevant international conferences.
  • Participate and assist in organizing research seminars and network meetings.
  • Contribute to outreach activities and popular dissemination of research findings. 


Applicants must hold a PhD in techno-anthropology, anthropology, sociology, ethnology, or an adjacent field in the humanities or social sciences.

Applicants are expected to document the following qualifications:

  • Excellent academic skills and a good publication record
  • Experience with ethnographic field studies of technology in practice
  • Knowledge of theories within several or all of the following fields: science & technology studies, infrastructure studies, design studies, innovation studies and critical data studies
  • Good command of English as a working language
  • Good communication and collaboration skills

 The following qualifications will be considered an asset: 

  • Experience with mixed or quali-quantitative methods
  • Experience with or knowledge of technical aspects of algorithms and data
  • Experience with or knowledge of institutional and organizational practices related to the development, implementation or use of algorithms.
  • Experience with interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Experience with dissemination and outreach activities

Specific requirements for the application

The written application should contain all the elements listed in the application procedure below. In addition, candidates are required to submit a tentative, max 2-pages research plan. In this plan, applicants should select two specific IT infrastructure cases that they would consider studying, and they should elaborate their reasons and motivations for this particular (tentative) choice of cases. The research plan may be a part of the application letter or uploaded as a separate document. 

Post Doctoral position
Appointment as Postdoc presupposes scientific qualifications at PhD–level or similar scientific qualifications. The research potential of each applicant will be emphasized in the overall assessment. Appointment as a Postdoc cannot exceed a period of four years in total at Aalborg University. Appointment at Postdoc level cannot exceed a period of eight years in total in Denmark, however max. six years at Assistant Professor level - which includes Postdoc - at the same institution.

The application must contain the following:

  • Your CV 
  • A complete publication list and markings of the attached publications to be taken into consideration in connection with the assessment. No more than five publications may be attached.
  • In case you attach joint, a co-author statement must be enclosed specifying your contribution to the joint work. The co-author statement must be signed by at least one of the co-authors. Template co-author declaration
  • Documentation of your teaching qualifications Guidance Teaching portfolio
  • Copies of your degree certificates (including Master’s and PhD certificates) 

Applicants will be assessed by an expert assessment committee. Applicants may be invited to an interview and/or asked to give a trial lecture.

AAU wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background or belief.

Shortlisting will be applied. This means that subsequent to the deadline for applications the head of department supported by the chair of the assessment committee will select candidates for assessment. All applicants will be informed whether they will be assessed or not. The selected applicants will be informed of the composition of the assessment committee, and each applicant will have the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that applies to the applicant in question. When the employment process has been terminated, a final rejection will be sent to the applicants who are not considered for the position.

Expectations in connection with employment as academic staff.


For further information about the postdoc position, and to obtain a full academic description of the project, please contact professor Torben Elgaard Jensen on tel. (+45) 40779596 or e-mail: tej@hum.aau.dk

Any enquiries relating to the application procedure should be addressed to Human Resources on email hs-hr@adm.aau.dk.

Your application including attachments must be sent electronically by clicking the “Apply online” link below. The application must be written in English. 


Employment is in accordance with the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities (the Appointment Order) and the Ministry of Finance's current Job Structure for Academic Staff at Universities. Employment and salary are in accordance with the collective agreement for state-employed academics.

Vacancy number



Mon May 17 00:00:00 CEST 2021

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