One Doctoral Studentship in Media and Communication Studies as part of the The Digital Welfare State research project

Södertörns högskola (Södertörn University) in south Stockholm is a dynamic institute of higher education with a unique profile and high academic standard. A large proportion of the university staff holds doctorates and there is a strong link between undergraduate education and research. Södertörn University has around 13 000 students and 840 employees. Undergraduate and postgraduate education and research are conducted in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Technology and Education. Our site is in Flemingsberg. Södertörn University is an equal opportunities employer.

Södertörn University welcomes proposals for doctoral theses in Media and Communication Studies, to be conducted within the research project: “The Digital Welfare State”. This project explores investigates the extensive implementation of automated decision-making in the welfare sector across Europe, and is one of the first to systematically link automation to questions of falling trust, declining civic participation and, by extension, challenges for democracy. Data-based infrastructures for public administration are shaping not only welfare provision, but also state-citizen relations and issues relating to ethics and accountability, human agency in relation to complex socio-technical systems, and biases and inequalities.

The project is premised on three major developments: 1) the major shift towards datafication and digitalisation of large parts of society 2) major changes in the organisation of the welfare state 3) declining trust in democracy. It foregrounds the perspective of citizens in terms of both the introduction process and its democratic implications. Combining extensive mapping, surveys, in-depth interviews and expert interviews, the project engages with the practices and experiences, as well as the attitudes and implications of automated decision-making in the welfare sector. These areas will be explored in Sweden with links to the European context. The project provides an in-depth and cutting-edge understanding of the process of automating welfare from a citizen perspective, producing highly relevant insights into how automated decision-making can support but also harm democracy.

Media and Communication Studies at Södertörn University is one of Sweden’s leading environments for media research and education. Research and education are focused on the contemporary digitised media landscape, founded on a historically informed understanding in which new communication technologies and their contexts are related to their predecessors. The research environment currently comprises around 20 researchers/teachers including six full professors, six associate professors (docents), and nine doctoral students. All our doctoral students have an international profile, and the working language of the doctoral programme is English. For more information, please click here. For a Swedish version click here.

Doctoral education at the Department of Media and Communication Studies is part of the research area of Critical Cultural Theory, which is an interdisciplinary research environment which consists of seven subjects in the humanities. Research focuses on critically motivated studies of cultural artifacts and human practices. For more information, please click here. For a Swedish version click here.

Description of the doctoral position
The PhD project should be linked to critical research on the digitalisation of welfare in the broadest sense. This may include studies of how citizens experience automation in the welfare sector, as well as the material and cultural conditions of digitalisation, datafication and automation, e.g. the technological infrastructures and social practices that are the underlying preconditions. The project should be situated within critical data studies as well as critical studies of digitalisation and related fields. The doctoral student will be part of an international and interdisciplinary research team. The successful applicant will write the thesis as part of the The Digital Welfare State research project. 

Entry requirements
The general entry requirements are:
1. a second-cycle qualification,
2. fulfilled requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second-cycle, or
3. substantially equivalent knowledge acquired in some other way in Sweden or abroad.
The Faculty Board may permit an exemption from the general entry requirements for an individual applicant, if there are special grounds. (Ordinance 2010:1064)

Specific entry requirements
The specific entry requirements are fulfilled by a student who has passed courses worth at least 90 credits in Media and Communication Studies, including a degree project worth at least 15 credits, or who has acquired the equivalent knowledge. The ability to assimilate academic material in English and a command of the language necessary for work on the thesis are prerequisites for admission to the degree programme.

Admission and employment
This position includes admission to third-cycle education, i.e. research level, and employment on a doctoral studentship at the School of Culture and Education at Södertörn University. The intended outcome for admitted students is a PhD. The programme covers 240 credits, which is the equivalent of four years of full-time study. The position may be extended by a maximum of one year due to the inclusion of departmental duties, i.e. education, research and/or administration (equivalent to no more than 20% of full-time). Other grounds for extension could be leave of absence because of illness or for service in the defence forces, an elected position in a trade union/student organisation, or parental leave.  Provisions relating to employment on a doctoral studentship are in the Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 5, Sections 1-7.

Date of employment: 1 September 2023

Application procedure
For more details, see this website under FAQ. Please use Södertörn University´s web-based recruitment system “ReachMee”. Click on the link “ansök” (apply) at the bottom of the announcement.

Your application may be written in English or Swedish/Norwegian/Danish and must include:

  • an application letter
  • curriculum vitae
  • degree certificate and certificates that demonstrate eligibility to apply for the position (if not written in English or Swedish/Norwegian/Danish, you must enclose translated versions)
  • Bachelor’s essay and Master’s dissertation in the field in accordance with the entry requirements (if not written in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish or English, you must enclose a summary of 5-6 pages, approx. 14,000 characters, to the copy of the dissertation).
  • a research plan (project plan) of between 1000 and 1500 words. The project’s relevance to Media and Communication StudiesCritical and Cultural Theory, and the research project The Digital Welfare State must be clear.
  • two references, with contact details, and a short note on their relationship to the applicant (for example supervisor).

If available, a maximum of three publications may also be attached.

Incomplete applications will not be processed.

Application deadline: 13 February 2023 at 23:59

Welcome with your application! On our website,, there is an application template that the applicant needs to follow. Publications referred to must be attached to the application. An application that is not complete or arrives at Södertörn University after the closing date may be rejected. The current employment is valid on condition that the employment decision becomes valid. Södertörn University may apply CV review. Union representatives: SACO: ST: SEKO: Henry Wölling tel: +46 8 524 840 80, Södertörn University has made strategic advertisement choices for this recruitment. Therefore, we decline all contact with advertisers and other salespersons of advertisement.