PhD positions social studies life insurance markets KU Leuven

The Centre for Sociological Research (CeSO) at KU Leuven (Belgium) is looking for two PhD candidates who will participate in the  Postgenomic Solidarity Project, which is funded through the prestigious Odysseus programme of The Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).Two PhD candidates fulltime, for four years each.

We are looking for junior social scientists with a strong interest in understanding the social aspects and implications of biomedicine, particularly in regard to insurance markets, discrimination, solidarity, privacy, and with outstanding skills in qualitative analysis.

Project Description: Rapid advances in the life sciences, alongside personalised medicine and postgenomics, have prompted an interest in the impact this type of health information will have on life insurance practices, in its contribution to new forms of human difference and solidarity. The aim of the project is to shed light on the interactive dynamics between genomics, insurance classifications, patients’ experiences with discrimination, and public policy and law in producing human difference and solidarity.

Through this call we are currently seeking 2 PhD candidates for fieldwork in different European settings, with one PhD candidate focusing on patients’ lived experiences with insurance discrimination (‘Performing Postgenomic Life’), and the second PhD candidate focusing on insurance professionals’ risk classifications (‘Classifying Postgenomic Life’). The project will draw on and combine research repertoires from various disciplines – most notably sociology, anthropology, science and technology studies, and political philosophy.

The PhD researchers will be based at the Faculty of Social Sciences, which offers a stimulating intellectual environment across several social science disciplines. The project working language will be English. The project is a 5-years’ project with multiple team members involved.Additional positions may be advertised for a starting date around April 2014.


  • Literature study and reviews relevant to the topic, document analysis, in-depth interviews, and/or focused ethnographic field research in selected European settings
  • Collaboration with peers who are conducting fieldwork in other sites, to jointly define themes for in-depth inquiry and analysis
  • Participation in the Faculty of Social Sciences PhD program
  • Active participation in (the organization of) conferences, workshops, seminars and other scholarly activities and in a variety of international networks
  • Write a PhD thesis as well as articles to be submitted to international refereed journals


Candidates will have the following credentials:

  • Completed or nearly completed master degree (MSc level or equivalent) in a relevant discipline (e.g. sociology, anthropology, science and technology studies, or general social sciences)
  • Demonstrable ambition to start a scientific career (e.g. by earlier publications, internships, international experience, extra-curricular activities)
  • Interest in and feeling for qualitative empirical research
  • Social skills and motivation towards building a stimulating research team and for active participation in the activities of the project
  • A strong command of English, written and spoken, is necessary
  • Excellent analytical skills, and commitment to conducting pioneering research at the intersection of the life sciences, economic markets, and society
  • Experience with interdisciplinary cooperation in research will be considered an advantage

We offer

  • A 12 months full-time appointment to start with, to be extended with a further 36 months contingent on a satisfactory performance during the first year, in order to finish your PhD
  • Attractive salary on Belgian university pay scales adjusted to your research experience. Secondary benefits at Belgian universities including holiday pay and end of year bonus
  • An exciting research environment with an international multidisciplinary profile and excellent opportunities for academic development
  • A nice working environment on a pleasant university campus in the heart of the beautiful historical town of Leuven, a 20 minutes train ride from the heart of Brussels

Job application

Applications must include, in a single PDF file:

  • A curriculum vitae
  • A letter of motivation (max. 500 words)
  • Names and contact details of two referents
  • A copy of one or two written works (thesis and/or essay and/or article) which provide evidence of research experience and ability to theorize (not necessarily in the field of PostgenomicSolidarity)

Selected applicants will be called for an interview. The job will start as soon as possible thereafter. You can apply for this job no later than November 01, 2013 via

Further information

For any additional information, contact the principal investigator, tel. +3216323167, mail:

More information on doing a PhD in Leuven:

More on salary:

Principal Investigator’s website:

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