Postdoctoral Researcher: The situation of urban essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The research team “Spatial Development and Urban Policy – SPUR” led by Prof. Dr David Kaufmann and based at the Institute for Spatial and Landscape Development invites applications for a Postdoctoral Researcher who examines the situation of urban essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The position is financed within the National Research Program 80 “Covid-19 in Society” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Job description

We are looking for a Postdoctoral Researcher who examines the experiences, struggles and policy demands of non-healthcare urban essential workers (such as bus drivers, day care personnel, waste collection workers, or delivery workers) during the pandemic. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unequal depending on the resources and opportunities people have to cope with the multiple consequences of the pandemic. These inequalities have been exacerbated in cities, especially with regard to urban labour issues. While some workers could continue their work from home, others had to step out and up, becoming or being identified as what we call now ‘essential’. Intersectional burdens, expressed in the overlapping of race, class, and gender, have been reproduced throughout the pandemic, as care and maintenance work have fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of women, people of color, and migrants.

We are going to study the experiences, struggles and policy demands of non-healthcare urban essential workers with qualitative and quantitative social science methods in the five biggest Swiss cities. Furthermore, we will study how Swiss decision-makers and the wider population perceive and valuate these workers as well as policies in support of them. The main goals are to understand the effects of the pandemic on so-called essential workers, to contribute towards the creation of policy measure that allows protect vulnerable workers and to better respond to future crises.

Your profile

  • A PhD degree (or near completion) in human geography, urban sociology, public policy, planning or related social science disciplines
  • Strong interest and curiosity in labour and urban policy issues
  • Motivation to pursue an academic career
  • Good knowledge of the Swiss policy and labour market context
  • Demonstrated applications of qualitative and quantitative social science research methods on questions related to labour and urban policy issues
  • First publications or high-level papers on issues related to urban studies, urban policy, urban inequality, or urban labour issues
  • Very good active command of German, and English (oral and written) and a good passive command of French.

Your workplace

Your workplace




We offer

A Postdoctoral Researcher position in a highly dynamic and friendly research group in a stimulating intellectual environment. We are an interdisciplinary group working at the intersection of public policy, planning and urban studies. We are committed to the integration of multiple approaches and methods rooted in the social sciences. 

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

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Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents by 20 November 2022:

  • Letter of interest
  • CV, including a list of publications
  • Academic transcripts for the MA and the PhD
  • One writing sample (e.g., an article, working paper, PhD dissertation chapter)
  • The contact details of two people willing to serve as a reference (but no recommendation letters are needed)

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our ETH job portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

The starting date for the position is in January 2023 or upon availability. The first round of interviews will be done at the end of November/beginning of December.
Questions regarding the position should be directed to Mr Marko Jovanovic, jmarko@ethz.ch (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents by 20 November 2022:

  • Letter of interest
  • CV, including a list of publications
  • Academic transcripts for the MA and the PhD
  • One writing sample (e.g., an article, working paper, PhD dissertation chapter)
  • The contact details of two people willing to serve as a reference (but no recommendation letters are needed)

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our ETH job portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

The starting date for the position is in January 2023 or upon availability. The first round of interviews will be done at the end of November/beginning of December.
Questions regarding the position should be directed to Mr Marko Jovanovic, jmarko@ethz.ch (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.