Senior Researcher, Technology & Precarious Labor 

October 2021

About the Role

The Labor Futures Initiative at Data & Society is seeking a Senior Researcher for a eighteen month to two year appointment to pursue a new research direction exploring technology, access to resources, and precarious work. This position will contribute to our organization’s goal to center questions of power and participation in all of our research. The Labor Futures initiative seeks to illuminate how low-wage workers (and other types of precarious workers) are implicated in decisions to integrate technologies in the workplace. The researcher will have the opportunity to design, propose and complete original research projects exploring these themes both independently and in collaboration with the Data & Society research team. 

Data-centric technologies, built on worker surveillance, can be used to algorithmically manage workforces. Such technologies have reshaped how work is performed. However, not all new technologies appearing in workplaces are designed around productivity. Employers have many reasons for deploying these technologies such as enforcing protocols, managing workflows, and protecting company assets. These tools contribute to the operation of business and, ultimately, benefit employers. However, there are a growing number of applications that function as employment “add-ons” that purport to meet the needs of workers. We are especially interested in research proposals that will explore broad questions related to the importation of such tools in an employment context. The location, industry, or type of workplace to be the subject of research is open.

Proposed research could address the following questions, or others: 

  • What is technology’s role in low-wage work and underemployment or precarious employment? Such a project might include consideration of algorithmic management but ideally will look beyond this phenomenon.

  • What role do technologies that are not directly related to performance play in shaping work? What problems are they attempting to solve? 

  • How are they beneficial or burdensome, and for whom?

  • How do workers feel about these tools? In what ways are they helpful, necessary, or obligatory? What choice do employees have to engage with such tools? 

  • What forms of surveillance and data collection are they predicated on? How do such systems then predict and score individuals? 

  • How might the intermingling of data sets (productivity data with health or financial data, for example) lead to further quantification of work and the worker?


Ideal Candidate 

We are seeking a PhD mid-career scholar, with a strong background in completed research. This researcher may have training in a variety of qualitative research methods and disciplines. While this is a research-oriented position, we welcome applicants with research and publication experience outside of traditional academic venues, including, but not limited to, technology development, civil society, and advocacy organizations. 

This researcher has a strong track record of directing research projects from conception to completion, including the design, staffing, and budget for the research project. Researchers with expertise in non-US contexts are especially encouraged to apply. The researcher has experience and is comfortable with high level, public communication of research and ideas.

In keeping with Data & Society’s remit to couple rigorous research with impact, we are seeking a candidate who can bridge various communities and disciplines, and build connections between stakeholders who may not traditionally work together. They will be enthusiastic about being a member of a collaborative, lively, and equity-oriented research community. 


  • Conceptualize, develop, and complete original research projects exploring topics at the intersection of low-wage work, inclusion and technology both independently and in collaboration with the Data & Society research team.

  • Ensure academic rigor and high standards for research completed within the initiative

  • Serve as a thought leader and counterpart to the program director and as a mentor for junior researchers on the labor team.

  • Spearhead efforts to build strong connections between stakeholders across disciplines and communities, including academic and practitioners, to create synergistic relationships and expand knowledge in this field.

  • Publish op-eds, articles, journals and blog posts related to ongoing research for academic and non-academic audiences.

  • Participate in and coordinate collaborative activities with the broader Data & Society community and diverse stakeholders such as labor advocates, organizers, workers, civil society, and policy makers.

  • Researchers are 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.

Job Details

  • This is a full-time, exempt position in the Research Department. 

  • This is a Senior Researcher position with a salary range between $90,000 to $105,000. The annual salary will depend on the position, seniority, and level of responsibility. 

  • Employees are 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 retirement plan  as well as paid time off, and paid federal holidays.

  • All researchers will also receive a laptop and additional research budget to cover various needs to complete the research and expectations of the role will depend on the project.

  • Employees must be eligible to work in your country of residence or the United States; we are unable to sponsor visas. 

  • 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 below

  1. 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.

  2. Your Curriculum Vitae.

  3. A 1-page project description that outlines the research you would like to complete.

  4. 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.

  5. The names, affiliations, and email addresses of three references.

Applications should be received by December 15, 2021. If you have any questions about this role, please feel free to reach out to

About Data & Society

Data & Society is an independent research institute founded in 2014. 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 innovative 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.

Data & Society provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws.

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