Call for applications for a fully funded PhD position at the Department of Sociology at the University of Lucerne (Switzerland), as part of a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) project on “Digital payments: Making payments personal and social”:
To complete the research team (total of 1 post-doc, 80% position, and 2 doctoral students, each 100% research positions) of the SNSF funded project on “Digital payments: Making payments personal and social,” the Department of Sociology at the University of Lucerne is looking for a doctoral student who could conduct fieldwork in Sweden, preferably in Swedish. The doctoral student will carry out qualitative, narrative interviews with users of digital payment apps in Sweden and observe how they interact in payment situations with others, e.g. retailers, banks, apps. Prior training in qualitative data collection and analysis is a plus. Local knowledge of Sweden is also a plus.
Here is a summary of the project, FYI:
This research project asks “How do digital payments create, shape, and alter social relations in the digital economy?” Building on current sociological research on payments and the data economy, the project examines practices and future imaginaries of users, retailers, banks, fintech and other intermediaries with regard to payment apps and the production of digital data. The project proposes that payment apps are central devices in the digitaleconomy: They provide for streams of user-generated transactional data – the economic assets – including purchasing preferences, amount spent, location, and time. Moreover, payment apps also produce transactional data that can be linked to other streams of trace data from that shopper’s smartphone. Such transactional data bring into focus relations between payment app users, retailers, banks, fintech intermediaries, and marketing agencies. The project proposes that digital payments alter existing and create new relations. For companies, payment apps may serve as the so far missing prism to see whole chains of transactions between users, customers, banking industry, retailers, and brands, which in turn allow for enhanced “personalized recommendations.” For users, payment apps may become social media, ease and increase consumption—they are also another element in the engineered reciprocal relations of data given to receive services. The project contends that in digital payments two fundamental mechanisms of the digital economy concomitantly interconnect: processes of personalization and relational embedding on the basis of transactional data. The project’s goals are (1) to identify and describe the practices and future imaginaries of payments and data, (2) to analyze changes in existing social relations and the creation of new relations, and (3) to explain processes of personalization and relational embedding in the data economy.
The project draws on the economic sociology and anthropology on money and payment, platform studies, and a transdisciplinary field of science and technology studies and the sociology on future imaginaries and expectations as drivers for innovation. Empirically, the project examines the field of digital payments from the perspectives of customers, retailers, and the banking industry in two contrasting cases: in Switzerland, where digital payments usage is low and in Sweden, where digital payments usage is pervasive. To obtain insights into changing and new relations, the project focuses on practices and narrated future imaginaries of diverse sets of actors involved in the field of digital payments in both Switzerland and Sweden. Using a multi-methodological research design, the project works with unique data sets. Data collection is based on traditional qualitative methods of interviews and ethnographic fieldwork as well as on collecting textual data from archival and digital documents. Data analysis rests on pattern search based on systematic close readings as well as on large-scale computational textual analysis. Four subprojects investigate (1) retail customers and retail companies in Switzerland, (2) banking and fintech industry in Switzerland and comparatively in Sweden, (3) digital payments in everyday life in Sweden, and (4) macroscopically, future imaginaries of policy makers, lobbyists, and business consultancies globally, in Switzerland, and in Sweden. The research project will make key contributions to an economic sociology of payments. In doing so, it will advance debates and empirical research on the digital economy and data capitalism.
Here is a link to the job ad
For further information please contact Prof. Sophie Mützel, PhD.
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Prof. Sophie Mützel, Ph.D.
T +41 41 229 55 63