PhD Candidate in Political Science (Legitimacy Beyond Consent Project)

The Department of Political Science and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the University of Amsterdam are looking for a PhD candidate to conduct ...

29 dagen geleden


Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


The Department of Political Science and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the University of Amsterdam are looking for a PhD candidate to conduct doctoral research in political theory within the ‘Legitimacy Beyond Consent’ project, directed by Dr Enzo Rossi and funded by the Dutch National Science Organisation (NWO).

Brief description of NWO Vidi Project ‘Legitimacy Beyond Consent: Confronting Transnational and Supranational Power Structures’:

The idea of a crisis of democracy is frequently invoked to explain a range of phenomena plaguing European states in the era of declining national sovereignty: disaffection, polarisation, fragmentation. The crisis is usually understood as a crisis of legitimacy, and so as a failure of gathering consent through representation. This project challenges that understanding of the crisis by proposing a novel account of legitimacy, driving a wedge between consent and representation. Traditional theories of democratic legitimacy are voluntaristic: representation legitimises the exercise of political power through consent, by making it receptive to the will of those over whom it is exercised. This project challenges democratic voluntarism in all its forms: those grounded in actual or hypothetical consent, as well as those grounded in deliberative and aggregative proceduralism. It abandons voluntarism by acknowledging that legitimate authority is necessarily coercive, but does so without thereby falling into an idea that 'might is right'. The alternative proposal is critical responsiveness: political coercion can be legitimate when it is responsive to stakeholders’ values (vetted for ideological distortions).
The shift from a voluntarist to a values-based theory of legitimacy enables exploration of two key, related, questions posed by globalisation to European democracies:

  • What is the proper remit of the supranational authority of the European Union?
  • To what extent can the transnational political power wielded by economic actors (corporations, IMF, WTO) be made compatible with liberal democracy?

Theories of legitimacy should solve Rousseau’s paradox: 'Man is born free: but everywhere he is in chains.' This project responds to the insight that solutions that dissolve the chains—that is, that show that legitimate authority is not coercive—are not satisfactory. The way to tackle the paradox is ask whether the chains make sense in the light of the values of those who bear them.

NB: The PhD candidate will likely focus on just one of the two questions outlined above.


  • A solid grounding in contemporary political theory/philosophy;
  • background in Political Science, philosophy, or a cognate field;
  • excellent writing and verbal skills in English (Dutch is not required), for the purpose of presenting and publishing work for an international scholarly audience;
  • strong organisational skills, for the purpose of assisting with conferences, workshops, dissemination to the general public, and other project activities.


On the basis of a full-time appointment, the gross monthly salary will be €2.222 during the first year, rising to €2.840 during an eventual fourth year, excl. 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end of year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement for Welzijn en Maatschappelijke Dienstverlening is applicable.

Additional information

Additional information about the vacancy may be obtained from:

Please send your application to:

with vacancy number 17-342 as subject.

Applications should comprise a letter of motivation, a full academic CV, an official transcript of the grades during your studies as well as your diploma and contact details of two references.

These should be sent electronically in one document, preferably as a pdf-file. Please do not send us additional documentation at this stage. The deadline for applications is 23 July 2017.

Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered.


With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research

The Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) unites all social science research of the UvA. The research programme focuses on the functioning of contemporary societies and their interrelationships from historical, comparative and empirical perspectives.

The PhD-candidate will work under the supervision of Drs Enzo Rossi and Paul Raekstad.

  • Time span: 4 years;
  • Start date: between September 2017 and December 2017 (negotiable).


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