PhD Qualitative Research Methods in Sociology

PhD Qualitative Research Methods in Sociology

Working at the VUB

For already 50 years, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has stood for freedom, equality and connectedness. These values are strongly present on our campuses, in our students as well as our staff. At the VUB, you’ll find a diverse collection of personalities: pure innovators and especially people who are 100% their authentic selves. With about 3.500 employees, we are the largest Dutch-speaking employer in Brussels, an international city with which we are all too happy to be connected, and around which our four campuses are located.

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The mission of the university includes:

  • the development, the transfer and the application of high-standing academic education and scientific research, free from any prejudice;
  • community integration of this in a spirit of social compassion;
  • critical development of everyone in light of the responsibilities borne in the community.

Position description

The Faculty Social Sciences & Solvay Business School, Department Sociologie, is looking for a PhD-student with a doctoral grant

More concretely your work package, for the preparation of a doctorate, contains: 

  • You mainly conduct research with a view to obtaining a doctorate or dissertation.

Research theme: this vacancy is situated at the intersection of sociology of youth, sociology of culture and political sociology. You will be part of a research team within the Research Group TOR that focuses on research into the relationship between (ethnic-cultural) diversity and socio-political attitudes. Among other things, the TOR research group participates in the JOP-Monitor, a large-scale survey of young people in Flanders and the major cities of Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent (see This research provides a wealth of information about young people and their living environment and answers questions such as: How do young people look at society? What keeps them awake? What activities do they do? Diversity in ethnic-cultural identities among young people is also an important research theme.

You will investigate the way in which diversity is relevant to different social views. Of particular (but not exclusive) interest is the relationship between aspects of religiosity and socio-political views among different ethnic-cultural groups. Within this context, many relevant research questions arise that may shape future doctoral research. Which aspects of religiosity are relevant? Does this relevance vary in a systematic way according to other characteristics (e.g. gender, social class, ethnic-cultural group). Also the potential role that the context (e.g. school) in which young people live and engage plays in all this needs to be further explored. Socio-political attitudes have a very broad interpretation. It can involve attitudes towards other groups, redistribution, politics, etc.

The selected candidate is expected to outline a PhD theme and a research task package together with the supervisor at the start of the appointment. The research should be connected to the above-described theme, but can use different methodological approaches (quantitative research, possibly in combination with qualitative research). The candidate is expected to propose this theme to the Fund for Scientific Research to obtain a grant for ‘Aspirant Fundamental Research’. The selected candidate will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Bram Spruyt and his research team.

The following references about the above described research domain can be consulted:

Van Droogenbroeck, F. & Spruyt, B. (2020) Social pressure for religious conformity and anti-gay sentiment among Muslim and Christian youth. Educational Psychology. 40(2): 227-248.

Van Droogenbroeck, F. et al. (2016) Relationship Between Religiosity and Negative Attitudes Toward Homosexuality Among Young Muslims and Christians in Flanders. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 55(4): 787-799. 

  • You will be involved in the teaching of the department and in particular in the supervision of the following course units:

         -Workshop Sociology and Science Methodology (Dutch language)

         -Sociology I (Dutch language)

          -Qualitative Methods (Dutch language)

  • You will contribute to the daily functioning of the department and the sociology programme.

For this function, our Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus (Elsene) will serve as your home base. 


What do we expect from you?

    • You hold a master’s degree in sociology or a related social science (e.g. anthropology, political science, communication sciences).
    • Candidates who recently graduated or students who will graduate by the end of June 2022 are encouraged to apply.
    • You have an excellent knowledge of Dutch and English.
    • You are an enthusiastic teacher and motivated researcher.
    • You are strong in qualitative research, but you can also handle quantitative research techniques.
    • You are a motivated researcher. Some professional experience with scientific research is an asset, but not a requirement.
  • You have not performed any works in the execution of a mandate as an assistant, paid from operating resources, over a total (cumulated) period of more than 12 months.


Are you going to be our new colleague?

You’ll be offered a full-time PhD-scholarship, for 12 months (extendable up to max. 48 months, on condition of the positive evaluation of the PhD activities), with planned starting date 15/09/2022.

You’ll receive a grant linked to one of the scales set by the government.

IMPORTANT: The effective result of the doctorate scholarship is subject to the condition precedent of your enrolment as a doctorate student at the university.

At the VUB, you’re guaranteed an open, involved and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career.

As well as this, you’ll enjoy various benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;
  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance;
  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN;
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise;
  • Ecocheques;
  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work-life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a fulltime contract).


Is this the job you’ve been dreaming of?

Send us ONLINE and at the latest on 01/07/2022 your CV, letter of motivation which has to include a short description of a possible research topic that is related to the above-described topic (+/- 1p) and the highest degree you’ve attained (not applicable for VUB alumni).

Do you have questions about the job content? Contact prof. Christophe Vanroelen at or on 0032 (0) 497 40 48 28.

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