Join our team: We are hiring a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to work for the new Fairwork Secretariat at the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre

Posted on 02.11.2020
We are hiring

The Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung gGmbH (WZB Berlin Social Science Centre) research group ‘Globalization, Work and Production’ seeks to hire a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (f/m/x)

The University of Oxford’s Fairwork project has partnered with WZB (Berlin Social Science Center) to develop a Fairwork Secretariat in Berlin. The partnership involves the recruitment of a Postdoctoral Research FellowCommunications Manager, and a Project Manager.

This is a full-time fixed-term position, with remuneration up to EG 14 TVöD Bund (yearly gross income between 51,000 and 60,000 Euros)starting as soon as possible until July 2022 (extension possible).

The closing date for applications is 1 December 2020.

About Fairwork 

Fairwork is an action-research project that currently operates in the UK, Germany, South Africa, India, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Egypt, and Bangladesh. We research working conditions in the gig economy, in order to develop ‘fairness ratings’ for digital labour platforms like Uber, Helpling and Deliveroo (see examples here). We use these ratings as a lever to improve pay and conditions for platform workers, through media and consumer pressure.

Fairwork’s programme of action research intends not just to understand the world, but to change it. By bringing workers, platforms, scholars, labour researchers and policymakers to the table, we work to collaboratively develop and embed principles of fair work into the script of the gig economy. Fundamental to the project is a commitment to being participatory and non-hierarchical within our communities: we are all—workers, unions, platforms, regulators, academics—the experts, and we all have co-developed this project. Our ultimate aim is to understand, and counter, some of the forces that disempower gig workers across the world.

Over the past three years, we have mobilized a unique and growing transnational network of social justice-minded scholars from over ten countries in pursuit of this planetary goal. In order to effectively advocate for gig workers everywhere, we believe it necessary for our team too to reflect a diversity of backgrounds, cultures, perspectives and more. In growing our team, we value and welcome the unique contributions that applicants can bring in terms of their education, opinions, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, ethnicity, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin, age, religion, disability, and beliefs. We actively strive to build and nurture a culture of empathy, inclusiveness, and respect.

The Fairwork Secretariat is a joint project of the Oxford Internet Institute and the WZB, led by professor Mark Graham (University of Oxford) and professor Martin Krzywdzinski (WZB). The Fairwork Secretariat sits at the nexus of three research clusters in Oxford and Berlin that focus on the future of work. The WZB GAP group comprises a number of researchers focusing on the digitalization of work, including research on platforms, automation, and artificial intelligence. The work at the Fairwork Secretariat will also involve cooperation with the Berlin-based Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society.

About the Postdoctoral Research Fellow

The ideal candidate(s) will have:

  • A relevant postgraduate degree in sociology, geography, anthropology, economics, development studies, or related fields.
  • Strong publication record and familiarity with the existing literature and research related to the gig economy, platform work, the digital economy, decent work, or precarious/temporary work.
  • Academic or professional experience, experience in the development of research projects and methodologies.
  • Experience conducting, analysing, and interpreting interview data.
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to write for publications, present research proposals and results, and represent the research group at meetings.
  • Experience coordinating a diverse set of stakeholders.
  • Knowledge of issues impacting on precarious and insecure workers, and a demonstrable commitment to working towards the empowerment of workers, and to equality and inclusion.

Applications from equally qualified people living with a disability will be given preference. We value diversity and welcome all applications – regardless of gender, nationality, ethnic or social origin, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation and identity. The WZB expressly encourages women and people with a migrant background to submit an application.

Structure and Primary Responsibilities

The primary aims of this position will be to (1) conduct research with platform workers and platform managers about job quality on digital labour platforms; (2) use that research as part of action research strategies to leverage change in the gig economy; (3) play a coordination role with some of the project’s international partners; (4) collaborate on publications and research outputs to disseminate the evaluations of platforms against principles of fair work. The tasks required in this role will involve close cooperation between the Berlin- and Oxford-based teams, including joint research activities, workshops and conferences, as well as publications. There will be regular travel opportunities to facilitate collaboration between the Oxford- and Berlin-based teams, and the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in partner countries.

The primary responsibilities of this position will be:

  • Conducting primary research and secondary comprehensive and comparative analysis of data collected in the Fairwork project.
  • Preparation of research publications, chapters, summaries, and reports.
  • Collaborating in the preparation and management of grant applications.
  • Coaching and monitoring the Fairwork research activities abroad, assisting with the supervision of project researchers external to the WZB.
  • Developing strategies to turn the Fairwork scores into an ethical consumption strategy.
  • Assisting the Fairwork team in the expansion of the project to further countries.
  • Outreach and liaising with external partners and stakeholders, in particular also the German development policymakers.
  • Disseminating findings in the media.
  • Managing and coordinating the new Fairwork Observatory.

Duration and Deadline

This is a fixed-term position starting as soon as possible until July 2022 (extension possible).

The remuneration is up to EG 14 TVöD Bund (yearly gross income between 55,000 and 64,000 Eurosdepending on qualification and work experience)

The closing date for applications is 1 December 2020.


If you have any questions about this role, please contact Sonata Cepik (