PhD Candidate, Collective Action in Istanbul’s Informal Neighborhoods

Amsterdam, Netherlands
€2,266 to €2,897 gross per month
25 Oct 2018
End of advertisement period
21 Nov 2018
Academic Discipline
Social Sciences, Sociology
Contract Type
Full Time

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences – Department of Sociology

The Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) invites applications for a PhD position on the history of collective action in informal neighborhoods (gecekondus) in Istanbul. This position is part of Justus Uitermark’s research project “Between collectivization and enclosure: examining the uneven provision of clean water, waste disposal and public space in rapidly growing cities,” which is funded by the Dutch National Science Organization (NWO) through a VIDI grant. The research project is embedded within the Department of Sociology, the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), and the Center for Urban Studies (CUS). In addition to the postdoctoral researcher, we are currently recruiting one PhD candidate to study Istanbul and one PhD candidate to study Accra.

Project and job description

Many cities in the Global South have been expanding rapidly, creating pressures on land, fueling conflicts over resources, and disrupting engrained power relations. The growing numbers of urbanites need access to basic provisions like clean water, sewerage, roads, public space, and electricity but governments are strapped for funds and often refuse to attend to the needs of deprived residents in informal settlements. This VIDI project studies what happens under these conditions. How do residents of rapidly expanding cities succeed or fail to access amenities when they cannot fulfil their needs through the state or the market?

As edifices of collective action, amenities – from plots of bare land used as football pitches to elaborate educational systems – bind people together but also pull them apart: in setting up amenities, collectivities organize and define themselves while erecting barriers to outsiders. The project develops a sociological and geographical approach to examine how people connect or disconnect in the process of setting up and governing different kinds of amenities, including clean water, public spaces, and roads. Theoretically, it draws on figurational sociology (as developed by Norbert Elias and Bram de Swaan) and the urban studies literature.

Much of Istanbul’s rapid expansion after the 1950s occurred through the construction of gecekondus on the city’s geographical periphery and in its political and cultural margins. As they occupied land and built homes without government permission, the gecekondu residents could not count on the state to provide services or settle disputes. The successful candidate will to study the founding and early development of gecekondu neighborhoods, focusing on how residents cooperated (or not) to develop and sustain amenities. In addition, the successful candidate will study the variegated development trajectories of gecekondus and the uneven incorporation of the neighborhoods and their inhabitants into the urban and institutional fabric.

The successful applicant will join a vibrant scholarly community in the Sociology Department, the AISSR, and at CUS. As an employee of the university, she or he will have access to travel support to attend conferences, and there will also be opportunities to gather experience in the classroom.


  • conducting research within the framework of Uitermark’s VIDI project;
  • conducting historical research and ethnographic field work in Istanbul;
  • publishing, together with the project leader, the results of the research in high-quality academic outlets;
  • engaging with the work of other researchers within the project;
  • write a PhD thesis on the research;
  • teaching (10% of the time).


  • A master’s degree in a relevant social science discipline (like sociology, geography, anthropology, political science), preferably with a specialization in urban studies;
  • excellent command of English;
  • excellent command of Turkish;
  • proficient in qualitative methods, ideally also competent in geographical methods (GIS) and quantitative network analysis;
  • capable and willing to work with urban studies theory and relational theory, specifically processual sociology;
  • capable and willing to work in a team and engage in comparative dialogues and research.

Further information

For more information, please contact:

Justus Uitermark, the principal investigator


The position concerns a temporary appointment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of four years. The earliest starting date is 1 January 2019. A later date is negotiable. The initial appointment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate.

The salary will be €2,266 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €2,879 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

Job application

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is an active participant in a diverse, international community. Our goal is for you to feel at home here, regardless of your background, race, orientation and/or beliefs.

Does this profile sound like you? If so, we are eager to receive:

  • a motivation letter of no more than 800 words explaining why you qualify for the position and how you intend to approach the research;
  • a writing sample like an MA-thesis or article;
  • a curriculum vitae;
  • the names and contact details of two referees.

These documents should be sent electronically in one document, preferably as a pdf-file. The deadline for applications is 21 November 2018. Please send your application to with the vacancy number 18-608 as subject.

A first selection round will be held late November, after which some candidates will be invited for an interview. After the interview round a decision will be made.

Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered. #LI-DNP