Postdoctoral Scholar, Trustworthy Infrastructures
About the Role
Data & Society is seeking a postdoctoral scholar for a two-year appointment researching alternative sociotechnical systems as part of a new area of focus on trustworthy infrastructures. The fellow will have the opportunity to design, propose, and complete original research projects exploring alternative sociotechnical systems both independently and in collaboration with the Data & Society research team. Above all, we’re looking for a candidate with expertise in how communities use sociotechnical methods to establish “trust and safety”—not as a department at a technology firm, but as a real condition of life. This work could include (but is not limited to), documenting how communities marginalized for their race, gender, or other characteristics have achieved safety on unsafe platforms, created their own platforms with alternative affordances, or created forms of critique through experimental technical practice. For this role, we are particularly interested in scholars who are investigating communities of color, such as Black women gaming communities, who are pioneers in creating safer spaces online.
Data & Society sees the investigation of trustworthy infrastructures as a crucial step in documenting the relationships among social media, tech platforms, and the changing norms of digital life. The new infrastructures of communication that now circle the globe are inextricably tied up with democratic participation, and so discovering who they exclude and how alternatives might emerge is a crucial political project. Therefore, we are looking for a researcher who can build on a body of work from scholars such as Ruha Benjamin, Anita Say Chan, Meredith Clark, and Sasha Costanza-Chock to ask: how is trust situated within infrastructures and how can safe infrastructures be designed from the margins? We are excited for someone to take up difficult questions such as: what would it take for marginalized communities to feel and experience trust online? What might these platforms look like if those most disproportionately harmed shaped their design? What would systems of redress and accountability look like?
The Ideal Candidate
The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines but should have a strong empirical foundation; be interested in questions related to technology, trust, and society; and be excited to work in a highly interdisciplinary environment that includes social scientists, lawyers, computer scientists, artists and practitioners. Candidates may have a PhD or equivalent experience in any number of disciplines, but should have a strong background conducting empirical, qualitative social science fieldwork.
Candidates should enjoy working on collaborative teams, contributing to peer intellectual production, and engaging broad public audiences with research. Strong candidates have lots of research ideas and are excited to grow and develop this area of inquiry at Data & Society. Ideal candidates are also committed to social change and oriented to practical applications of research and its implications for practice, design and governance of new technologies, and a strong desire to understand how technology and power shape our socio-technical society. Candidates should be able to write for multiple audiences and be part of a public-facing research institute.
- Excellent research and written communication skills.
- Doctoral Degree or relevant research experience.
- Ability to coordinate and conduct in-depth research interviews.
- Ability to work independently with minimal oversight.
- Ability to write for a non-academic audience and translate research findings for journalists and policymakers.
- Ability to assess the amount of time that a project will take and meet deadlines.
- Ability to participate in and assist with project-related events and post-COVID travel.
- Ability to coordinate with other team members.
- Conceptualize, develop, and conduct a research project.
- Publish op-eds and blog posts related to ongoing research for academic and non-academic audiences.
- Participate in conferences and workshops in your field.
- Participate in outreach and collaboration activities including meetings, presentations, webinars, hearings, and conferences.
- Collaborate with other researchers internally and externally.
- Collaborate with colleagues to develop and execute new research projects.
- Coordinate and attend regular team meetings, as well as collaborate with the broader Data & Society community.
- You will be expected to contribute to the life of Data & Society through active engagement in and hosting of events, seminars, reading groups, and other cross-topical activities.
- The annual salary will depend on the position, seniority, and level of responsibility. You will also receive a laptop. Additional research budget will depend on the project.
- You will be offered a generous benefits package including health, dental, and vision insurance and access to a range of opt-in products and services including additional insurance and 401k management as well as paid time off, and paid federal holidays.
- You must be eligible to work in your country of residence or the United States; we are unable to sponsor visas.
Compensation: $75 - 90k
Hours per week: 40
FLSA Status: Exempt
Please note this role will start as completely virtual, but in the future will likely involve travel and meeting in-person.
To apply, please submit the following materials here:
- Cover letter describing your current research projects or work, as well as your ideal research and professional trajectory. Please also indicate your desired start date and highlight any experiences that may contribute to your success in this position.
- Your Curriculum Vitae.
- A 1-page project description that outlines the research you would like to complete during this postdoctoral fellowship.
- Two writing samples that illustrate your ability to communicate complex research findings to a broad audience. This should include at least one publication where you are either a lead or contributing author writing about original empirical research.
- The names, affiliations, and email addresses of three references.
As we will be reviewing applications on a rolling basis, this position will remain open until filled.
If you have any questions about this role, please feel free to reach out to email@example.com.
About Data & Society
Founded in 2014, Data & Society is a NYC-based independent research institute. We operate as a dynamic intellectual nonprofit with strong recognition in the technology, academic, and policy sectors. Our work advances public understanding of the social and cultural implications of data-centric technologies and automation. Through interdisciplinary research and engagement, we work to ensure that knowledge guides development and governance of technology.
The issues that Data & Society seeks to address are complex. The same innotwvative technologies and socio-technical practices that are reconfiguring society—enabling novel modes of interaction, new opportunities for knowledge, and disruptive business paradigms—can be abused to invade people’s privacy, provide new tools of discrimination, and harm individuals and communities.
To provide frameworks that can help society address emergent tensions, Data & Society is committed to identifying thorny issues at the intersection of technology and society, providing and encouraging research that can ground informed, evidence-based public debates, and building a network of researchers and practitioners who can anticipate issues and offer insight and direction.
Data & Society’s programs bring together different perspectives, research methods, and practices. We weave together researchers, entrepreneurs, activists, policy creators, journalists, geeks, and public intellectuals. We see tremendous reciprocal benefits for network building and research when they are combined.
The work and well-being of Data & Society is strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and much more. We welcome applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and persons with disabilities.