PhD in the ERC project Law as a Vehicle for Socio-Economic Change: Mainstreaming Non-Extractive Economic Practices

Research / Academic

The Amsterdam Law School has an opening for one PhD position (1FTE) for the duration of 4 years) at the Department of Private Law, and within the framework of the ERC funded project ‘Law as a Vehicle for Social Change: Mainstreaming Non-Extractive Economic Practices.

Project description

The current economic model is overdue for revision. The relentless focus on economic growth is ravaging the environment, and the concomitant social problems have either already reached glaring levels (rocketing global inequality) or seem poised to do so (climate displaced persons). A number of radical proposals, such as prosperity without growth, circular economy, or doughnut economics, have been proposed to chart a trajectory towards socio-ecological transformation, arguing that a profound change in our ways of living and modes of production is necessary in order to respond to the threats we face. Yet such proposals, however commendable, have gained only modest political traction, insofar as they seem unthinkable from the vantage point of our current economic system, consumption patterns, political discourse and legal institutions. 

This project will show how law can contribute to making such transformative projects politically credible. More specifically, it will demonstrate how law, and private law in particular, can be used to nurture those existing economic practices that already build on the environmental and social aspirations embodied by such projects. The two main objectives are, first, to offer a set of legal tools and policy proposals that would make the adoption of environmentally and socially non-extractive economic practices, such as social cooperatives or solidary financial institutions, more attractive for people to implement. Second, N-EXTLAW theorizes how law can turn seemingly utopian projects for socio-ecological transformation into a realistic legal-political projectBy refashioning the concrete socio-legal arrangements for pursuing non-extractive economic practices as well as re-shaping the values on which economic decision-making draws, law can make non-extractive economic practices more present in everyday action, and thereby uphold those cultural frames that affirm the sense that socio-ecological transformation is within our reach.

Further background

Run by prof. Marija Bartl, the 5-year ERC-funded project will start in May 2020. It will be institutionally placed within the framework of the Amsterdam Centre for Transformative Private Law (ACT) and the Amsterdam Law School research programme Sustainable Global Economic Law (SGEL). Alongside the PhD candidate, the team will consist of the PI and two postdoctoral researchers.

The team will collectively: 1) build a set of legal tools and policy proposals that would make the adoption of socially responsible economic practices more attractive to implement; and 2) theorise how the law can turn seemingly utopian projects for socio-ecological transformation into a realistic legal-political projects.

The emphasis of the project is on the transformative potential of private law (company law, contract law, and property law), however, the team will also venture into the transformative role of European and national public law and regulation, including taxation, competition law, and social security law.


  • Conduct academic research within the framework of the PhD project, embedded in the broader ERC project;
  • present your research at seminars and academic conferences;
  • work well both independently and as a team player;
  • be a proactive communicator and dedicated and creative contributor to our team;
  • take responsibility for some of the organisational and administrative tasks, such as conference organisation, field trip organisation;
  • in order to have rounded academic profile, the PhD will do some limited teaching.


The successful candidate:

  • has a master’s degree in law and preferably also a background in other social sciences;
  • is analytically strong and passionate about doing scientific research, proven by a strong and convincing master’s thesis, papers, and/or publications;
  • ideally has experience with qualitative research methods and analysis techniques;
  • has the perseverance and focus to complete a long-term challenging project;
  • enjoys working both independently and as part of a team and shows an interest in working interdisciplinary;
  • is fluent in English, both oral and written. Knowledge of Dutch, Norwegian and/or Italian is a plus.

Salary Benefits:

Our offer

The initial employment contract is for 1 year, ended by assessment. After a positive assessment, the contract will be extended by additional 3 years. The starting date of the appointment is anytime between 1 September 2020 and 1 March 2021.

The gross full-time monthly salary will be in accordance with the salary scales for PhD candidates at Dutch universities, scale P (Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities) ranging from €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month (full-time equivalent). Secondary benefits at Dutch universities are attractive and include 8% holiday pay and an 8,3% end-of-year Bonus.

What else do we offer?

The successful candidate will join a a vibrant research community of the Amsterdam Center for Transformative Private Law and the programme Sustainable Global Economic Law. At the Amsterdam Center for Transformative Private Law (ACT) we explore the role of private law in the making of society, as well as the processes of private law-making in a pluriform world. ACT has a strong track-record of excellent research and sustains a dynamic research culture through a series of events and intiatives.

Sustainable Global Economic Law (SGEL) is a law school project that connects private law with International and European law in exploration of the constitutive role of law in global political economy and its transforatin to sustainability. Next to ACT, SGEL includes researchers from the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG) and the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL).

Work Hours:

38 hours per week


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