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PhD in Urban Geography and Platform Real Estate - job post

Universiteit Utrecht
3.6 out of 5
3584 Utrecht
€ 2.770 - € 3.539 per maand


3584 Utrecht

Volledige vacaturetekst

Utrecht University invites applications for a PhD research position at the Faculty of Geosciences in a project examining the relations between housing and platform urbanism. This PhD position is situated across spatial planning and urban geography research groups.

Your job

Participation in urban life is increasingly reliant on the use of digital platforms (for example, Uber, Airbnb, and Funda). These platforms territorialize urban processes, including housing, promising to connect different stakeholders in flexible and transparent ways; however, they also dictate the terms of connectivity. Platforms limit interactions between selected stakeholders and participants, (re)creating patterns of inclusion, exclusion, and inequalities, where the most vulnerable people lose out.

Platform real estate suggests increased transparency in the real estate market between buyers and sellers to address unethical bidding practices and favoritism. However, platforms create new intermediary gatekeeping dynamics through opaque algorithms and technologies, through which unequal housing markets must be negotiated. Previous research has explored the impact of global platforms and short-term rental housing (Airbnb), yet there remains little empirical work on the varieties of platforms that mediate housing markets. This project will focus on the intersection of urban housing and platformization, with a particular emphasis on the city of Amsterdam. By focusing on lived experiences, the candidate will use qualitative methods to explore how different social groups and stakeholders negotiate online housing platforms.

Project Summary

The rise of online platforms transforms the landscape of residential real estate, influencing how houses are bought and rented. For example, platforms like Funda, Brainbay, and Facebook are used to market various properties and screen potential residents. While these platforms enhance connectivity between sellers and buyers, they also redefine social relations and establish new norms within the real estate market. Moreover, platforms function as a dragnet for various data extracted from social interactions, aggregated, and valorized. This PhD project examines the relationship between digital platforms and urban housing markets, focusing on Amsterdam—a city with a distinct and challenging housing market. The research explores the lived experiences of various actors involved in housing platforms, including residents, realtors, landlords, and banks. It also considers the multiple platforms involved in the housing market, such as real estate platforms, social media, and finance. The Research Objectives are:

  • To explore how different social groups and housing stakeholders negotiate housing platforms;
  • To map the real estate ecosystem for the Amsterdam housing market;
  • To analyze the role of digital platforms in shaping housing markets and social inequalities;
  • To investigate how digital technologies interact with urban housing regimes.

Your role will involve the following tasks:

  • Conducting qualitative research using methods such as mapping elicitation, interviews, ethnography, digital methods, creative methods, and observation.
  • Publishing research results in academic papers and policy reports, as well as through creative forms of dissemination (e.g., podcasts, blogs).
  • Co-organizing public engagement activities.
  • Teaching a small percentage of courses starting from the second year (approximately 10%).

The supervisory team exists out of the following people. Dr Daan Bossuyt & Dr Carl Bonner-Thompson (daily supervisors). Dr Ilse van Liempt and Prof Dr Edwin Buitelaar (promoters).

Your qualities

We welcome applications from candidates who meet the following qualifications:

  • A master's degree in Human Geography, Spatial Planning, Urban Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Media Studies, or a related field.
  • A strong commitment to interdisciplinary research.
  • Demonstrated interest in digital technologies, urban studies, and social inequalities.
  • Strong qualitative research skills, with a willingness to explore innovative methods.
  • Excellent communication and analytical skills.
  • Fluency in spoken and written English.

Proficiency in Dutch and experience working with diverse stakeholders in research would be advantageous.

Our offer

We offer:

  • a position for 1 year, with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period;
  • a working week of 36 hours and a gross monthly salary between € 2,770 and € 3,539 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU);
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit Working at Utrecht University.

About us

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning investigates sustainability challenges in the context of an ongoing worldwide trend of increasing urbanization. The Department’s ‘Urban Futures’ research program focuses on urban inequalities, geographies of digital transitions, and urban environmental change. It develops novel theoretical and empirical approaches that are not solely at the forefront of academic debates but that also create new perspectives on successful policies and interventions to address urban challenges. Our research program is the basis for our Research Master's Human Geography and Geographical Information Management and Applications and Professional Master's in Spatial Planning, Human Geography and International Development Studies. The Department also runs a large and highly appreciated Bachelor's program and is part of the Netherlands Graduate School of Urban and Regional Research for PhD candidates. Unique characteristics of the Department are a special team focusing on innovations within teaching methods, its strong involvement in the transdisciplinary sustainability research theme and professional consultancy for public partners.

More information

For more information, please contact Dr Daan Bossuyt at

Candidates for this vacancy will be recruited by Utrecht University.

Apply now

As Utrecht University, we want to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

To apply, please send you curriculum vitae, a 1-page cover letter explaining your motivation and the following documents via the ‘apply now’ button:

  • a writing sample (for example, a thesis chapter or published academic work);
  • names of two academic references, who can be contacted for reference letters;
  • an official transcript of the applicant’s grades during the bachelor and master studies as well as the diplomas.

The first round of interview will take place on Tuesday 6 August, 2024

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