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Vacancy: Early Stage Researcher, Wageningen University

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The Sociology of Consumption and Households (SCH) Group and the Rural Sociology (RSO) Group at Wageningen University are looking for a postgraduate researcher (early stage researcher) to carry out a research project on ‘The politics of care and defining the good life: elderly women’s community food economies in rural Japan’. The candidate will be employed by Wageningen UR, but they will spend secondments for three months in other research institutions defined in the project descriptions.


Conditions in Japan, which foreshadow a likely scenario in Europe (depopulation, ageing, food insecurity, declining rural agricultural, economic and social vitality), have sparked concerted efforts to empower senior rural women. These women have been active in entrepreneurship that involves significant natural resources management over the last decade. Today, more than 10,000 rural women’s enterprises in Japan generate livelihoods that nourish them, their families and communities. The ESR will examine relationships between rural, particularly senior women’s entrepreneurial and care practices towards humans and nature in rural Japan and explore the embodied meaning of good life through a feminist political ecology (FPE) lens. The focus will be on the everyday, embodied interdependencies among rural women entrepreneurs, consumers and nature, created through a community food economy. The ESR will use participatory action research, life histories, and collaborative interviews.

Expected results

This project will make visible the gendered nature of a community food economy produced through rural elderly women’s entrepreneurial and care practices in interconnected spaces illuminating the situated meanings of good life. The study will have particular relevance for European policy, given Europe’s accelerating rural depopulation, ageing, and the globalisation of food chains.

Planned secondments

The University of Western Sydney (3 months) to work on community economies and Freie Universitat Berlin (3 months) to do a comparative study on the politics of food.

This ESR project is one of 15 ESR projects within Well-being, Ecology, Gender and Community (WEGO), which is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Network (ITN), funded by the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 and coordinated by The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam.


The contract duration is 36 months, starting 01 September 2018. The ESR will be offered a contract for 18 months, which will be extended after a positive performance evaluation, with another 18 months. The ESR will be responsible for:

  • Performing research on the described topic based on a research proposal which will be assessed by the host institute;
  • Following the WEGO training programme;
  • Doing two secondments in the context of the research at academic partner organisations;
  • Participating in the WEGO meetings, co-organising specific activities; and
  • Contributing to communication and dissemination products for example by giving presentations, and making scientific findings accessible to field partners.

Formal eligibility criteria

You are eligible as an early stage researcher (ESR) if you are, at the time of recruitment: (i) in possession of a university degree, and (ii) have a maximum of four years of full-time research experience, including any period of research training. This is measured from the date when you obtained the degree which formally entitles you to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the research training is provided. Selection is, thus, based on professional experience in research. ESRs should not be PhD holders. Applicants may be of any nationality.

Because the Marie Curie schemes are designed to encourage researcher’s mobility to improve career perspectives, a mobility criterion applies for recruitment: applicants cannot have spent more than 12 months in the Netherlands (work/study/living) in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date of 01 September 2018. Short stays, such as holidays, are not included.

Selection criteria

The applicant must:

  • Have good verbal and writing skills in English and be proficient in the relevant language for ESR project (i.e., Japanese)
  • Be highly motivated, have a personal commitment to the research project as a whole
  • Have proven ability to work in a network and an aptitude to meet challenges
  • Demonstrate an excellent understanding of feminist political ecology
  • Have 2–3 years of experience of working/campaigning/studying in the field of social–environmental science
  • Be an early career researcher with less than 4 years of research since graduation

Work conditions

  • A full-time contract with a competitive salary for 36 months. The remuneration of the recruited ESR is based on a monthly payment made up of living allowances, family allowance, and mobility expenses where applicable and according to MSCA Horizon 2020 requirements
  • Office space in a professional and stimulating environment
  • Family-friendly working conditions
  • A potential to register for a doctoral degree if the recruited ESR shows sufficient progress after one year.

Applicants should submit all documents in English:

  • A proposal of between 1,500 and 2,000 words that elaborates your research motivation and interest, how you plan to undertake the research project for which you are applying. Candidates can only apply for one of the 15 ESR projects. State your full name and the ESR topic (ESR8: The politics of care and defining the good life: elderly women’s community food economies in rural Japan) for which you wish to apply on the proposal.
  • A copy of your master’s degree in the English language. Applicants should have obtained a master’s degree with a minimum grade of B+/ 2.1.
  • Proof of residency of the last three years (01 September 2015 – 01 September 2018). If an applicant had more places of residence in this period, please indicate the periods and countries.
  • A CV indicating clearly that applicants have not undertaken 4 or more years of research. Please note, the WEGO Network is particularly interested in early career scholars who are currently engaged in the political ecology activities. Your CV should therefore also indicate your engagement in communities, movements, non-government organisations you see as relevant for the societally relevant aspect of the WEGO-ITN.
  • The names of two referees. Only the referees of short listed candidates will be contacted.

Applications should be sent to itnwego@gmail.com by 12 noon (Central European Time), 01 March 2018.

Applicants will be informed if they are short listed by 31 March 2018. Interviews of short listed candidates will be arranged and held by the host institutes in April and May 2018.

Further information about WEGO-ITN


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