Postdoc in digitalisation and citizenship

The Department of Digital Design and Information Studies within the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University invites applications for a postdoctoral position in digitalisation and citizenship. The postdoc position is affiliated with the research project SHAPE – Shaping Digital Democracy funded by Aarhus University.

The postdoc position is a full time and fixed-term position. The position begins on 1 September 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. The position ends on 31 December 2023.

The School of Communication and Culture is committed to diversity and encourages all qualified applicants to apply regardless of their personal background.


SHAPE – Shaping Digital Democracy is Aarhus University’s newly established centre, which aims to promote digitalisation that supports democracy and citizenship. Based on an interdisciplinary research agenda, SHAPE will provide knowledge that qualifies the public and political debate by informing decision-makers, legislators and other relevant actors, and deliver concrete technologies, methods and guidelines that support digital citizenship. SHAPE builds on a strong Scandinavian tradition of research in democracy and information technology (IT) and combines critical perspectives on IT with action-oriented approaches based on citizen involvement in the development of IT. SHAPE investigates how the digital citizen is defined and managed partly in the welfare state and partly on tech giants’ social media platforms. In addition, SHAPE’s purpose is to develop digital citizenship by focusing on activism and citizen-engaged IT development. Through interaction and cross-fertilisation between several sub-projects, SHAPE will provide a holistic understanding of the digital citizen and digital citizenship, which is highly needed in a Danish and international context.

Postdoc position

The position will be part of the work package: Digital Citizenship. The aim of the project is to conduct research that furthers the theoretical and empirical understanding of the digital representation of citizens – ‘the digital double’. The object of study is the main Danish digital citizen portal: A central concern of the project is to deepen our knowledge about how citizenship is affected and transformed by digitalisation and datafication and especially how vulnerable citizens are affected. An important objective of the SHAPE project is to contribute to and engage in the public debate and understanding of how digital infrastructures and data affect society, democracy, citizenship and subjectivity. Therefore, the aim of this particular project is to make visible the qualities, power and politics of a main digital infrastructure,, and thereby make it more accessible to and debatable for the public.

The successful applicant will be expected to carry out a research project on digital citizenship. The proposed project is described below, but applicants are encouraged to further develop or offer an alternative to the project in their application (max. 2 pages).

The project has three parts: 1) study and describe the history, rationale and decision-making behind by analysing the political, technical and public discourses that form the basis of the portal, 2) conduct an overall (not detailed!) infrastructure study of that unpacks how the infrastructure is configured, its data sources and flows and main algorithms, 3) conduct an ethnographic qualitative study with a small number of citizens (approx. 10) focusing on their experiences as users of the portal. Here, the focus is not on user experience as such (vis-à-vis interaction design and HCI), but on citizens’ experiences and imaginaries about what, how and by whom they are ‘seen’ by and through, as well as their thoughts on uncertainties, risks, possibilities and any ways of gaming the system that they see. One potential additional task is together with a group of citizens and researchers to develop ideas and concepts that might support the redesigning of in order to further the transparency of its infrastructure. Overall, the ambition of the project could be to develop and provide content to concepts such as ‘data agency’ and ‘data negotiability’ between citizens and public authorities. An estimated time plan for the project is 9 months for parts 1 and 2, which mainly consist of desk research and include writing two publications. Part 3, which involves an ethnographic, qualitative approach, is estimated to last 6 months and includes writing one publication.

The successful applicant will be expected to conduct new original research in the areas defined above; publish in relevant journals, academic books and non-academic publications; help coordinate the project activities, including possible guest seminars and researcher visits, and public engagements; participate in project meetings and joint events; work collaboratively with the principal investigators (PI and co-PI) and other team members; actively develop the research area, including identifying and maintaining contact with academic and non-academic partners; as well as develop follow-up grant applications for the project.

The research project will be conducted in collaboration with and supervised by associate professors Antoinette Fage-Butler and Peter Danholt. It is a precondition that the successful applicant is fluent in written and spoken Danish. Applicants are welcome to submit their application in Danish.


Applicants for the position of postdoc must hold academic qualifications at PhD level. Knowledge and expertise in the field of science and technology studies (STS), especially actor network theory, infrastructure studies, data studies, digital methods, institutional communication and governmentality is an advantage. In addition, applicants are expected to have substantial experience of ethnographic and qualitative research of technology and practice including document and discourse analysis. Applicants are asked to submit publications that they find best documents their competences relevant to the project.
Applicants must be able to document, relevant to the position:

  • an internationally oriented research profile in relation to digitalisation and citizenship as documented by a PhD dissertation and/or research publications
  • experience in the self-directed management of research projects
  • willingness and previous experience with research communication and public engagement, in order to engage productively both within the research team and with external organisations and institutions, e.g. in the form of presentations and public communication or similar.

Furthermore, it will be considered an advantage if applicants can document:

  • a track record of research publications of a high international standard, as commensurate with the length of the applicant’s academic career
  • experience of participation in national and international research networks.

Please note that applications that do not include uploaded publications (maximum five) will not be considered.

Although the Aarhus University application system includes an option to upload letters of recommendation, please do not include letters of recommendation or references with the application. Applicants who are invited to an interview may be asked to provide references.

Work environment

Active participation in the daily life of the department is a high priority, and we emphasise the importance of good working relationships, both among colleagues and with our students. In order to maintain and develop the department’s excellent teaching and research environment, the successful applicant is expected to be present at the department on a daily basis.

We respect the balance between work and private life and strive to create a work environment in which that balance can be maintained. You can read more about family and work-life balance in Denmark.

Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU.

International applicants

International applicants are encouraged to read about the attractive working conditions and other benefits of working at Aarhus University and in Denmark, including healthcare, paid holidays and, if relevant, maternity/paternity leave, childcare and schooling. Aarhus University offers a wide variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including a relocation service and an AU Expat Partner Programme. You can also find information about the taxation aspects of international researchers’ employment by AU.

The department

The place of employment is the Department of Digital Design and Information Studies, Helsingforsgade 14, 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark.
Prospective applicants are invited to view the department’s website.

School of Communication and Culture

The school is a part of the Faculty of Arts. You will find information about the school and its research programmesdepartments and diverse activities on its website.


For further information about the position, please contact the principal investigator (PI), Associate Professor Peter Danholt,
If you need help uploading your application or have questions about the recruitment process, please contact Arts HR support by email:

Qualification requirements

Applicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.


Faculty of Arts refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities(the Appointment Order).

Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here:

If nothing else is noted, applications must be submitted in English. Application deadline is at 11.59 pm Danish time (same as Central European Time) on the deadline day.

Aarhus University’s ambition is to be an attractive and inspiring workplace for all and to foster a culture in which each individual has opportunities to thrive, achieve and develop. We view equality and diversity as assets, and we welcome all applicants.

Shortlists may be prepared with the candidates that have been selected for a detailed academic assessment. A committee set up by the head of school is responsible for selecting the most qualified candidates. See this link for further information about shortlisting at the Faculty of Arts:shortlisting

Faculty of Arts

The Faculty of Arts is one of five main academic areas at Aarhus University.

The faculty contributes to Aarhus University’s research, talent development, knowledge exchange and degree programmes.
With its 550 academic staff members, 275 PhD students, 9,500 BA and MA students, and 1,500 students following continuing/further education programmes, the faculty constitutes a strong and diverse research and teaching environment.

The Faculty of Arts consists of the School of Communication and Culture, the School of Culture and Society and the Danish School of Education. Each of these units has strong academic environments and forms the basis for interdisciplinary research and education.

The faculty’s academic environments and degree programmes engage in international collaboration and share the common goal of contributing to the development of knowledge, welfare and culture in interaction withsociety.


The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University’s website.

Aarhus University
Aarhus University is an academically diverse and research-intensive university with a strong commitment to high-quality research and education and the development of society nationally and globally. The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 38,000 students (FTEs) and 8,000 employees, and has an annual revenues of EUR 885 million. Learn more at