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The Department of Sociology has a vacancy for a PhD candidate in the computational analysis of conflict. This PhD project is part of a large EU-funded research project called ODYCCEUS, which aims to be a frontrunner in the development of digital and computational methods and models to study opinion dynamics and conflicts.

The PhD position will be supervised by Justus Uitermark and Petter Törnberg at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. The work will be carried out in close collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. UvA and Chalmers are responsible for a number of research tasks within the ODYCCEUS project, including:

    exploring the epistemological implications of digital data within social science and the role of social media in the development of conflict;
    developing agent-based opinion dynamics models to study the coevolution of representations, opinions and social networks. This could be used to examine under what conditions polarization or convergence will emerge;
    developing algorithms that use natural language processing to extract community structure from textual data. Such algorithms would permit the exploration of structural patterns in opinion dynamics;
    using these algorithms and models, and other others developed in the project, to look at alliances and antagonisms between groups in the public arena, examining inter-issue dynamics, especially focusing on development of tensions, polarization, and conflict.

The candidate is expected to contribute to a few or all of these tasks depending on her or his research interests and skills. In the project, UvA and CTH will generally function as a bridge between methodological development and the reality of social scientific research: as a broker between models and social theory – between pattern and explanation. Hence, the ideal candidate has a foot on each side of the technical-theory divide, implying either a background in technology combined with deep interest in the social sciences, or a background in the social sciences combined with a deep interest in technology.

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