Freedom House has received a grant from the U.S. Department of
State to study recent examples of civic mobilization in
authoritarian contexts in order to understand the emergence of
movement dynamics. Our initial three cases are Belarus, Ethiopia
and Vietnam. We seek three journalists or scholars who are experts
on social movements in the respective countries, one for each case.
We anticipate that this part-time contract will take about four
months to complete and the contract will be worth at least $6,000.
We will begin training the researchers in April 2021 and the
research will take place in the spring and summer of this year, if
This contract is not intended to fund the
journalist/researcher's independent work, though the contractor
will retain the right to use their work under this contract for
other purposes and the contractor will be credited on any
publications that result from this project. This research will be
undertaken within a conceptual framework and specific research
questions developed by Freedom House, and the contractor will work
in collaboration with the Freedom House team throughout the
duration of the contract. Each case will be one of a set of
comparative cases, so the contractor will be trained in and must
comply with the protocol of the study.
The research aims to focus in on initial moments of civic
mobilization after a long period of quiet or repression, and to
understand why protests emerged and expanded when they did (in
May-June 2020 in Belarus; in spring-summer 2016 in Ethiopia and
Vietnam). We are NOT asking for an analysis of the underlying
issues behind the protests which are well known, but rather
something more subtle: an analysis of the dynamics, skills, and
backgrounds of the civic actors involved and how those factors led
to different civic actors making a decision to take the risk of
protesting at that time.
The design for these case studies involves a social science
method called process tracing: investigating the evidence for and
against various causal claims about why events happened the way
they did. Researchers will be trained by Freedom House in this
method and will be required to meet virtually on a monthly basis to
discuss the how the research is going, get advice on next steps,
and to share preliminary findings with the team of researchers
working on other case studies. The final deliverable will be an
8,000-10,000 word report that gives a detailed history of the
events and actors relevant to this narrow focus in time, answers
the main research question about why the mobilization happened, and
systematically documents the evidence supporting the claims
The researcher/journalist will ideally be very familiar with
both these events and the movement actors involved, and be fluent
in relevant languages and English. The research will require
original data collection (interviews, primary source review) so
ideally this person will be located in the country or have
excellent connections there. International and domestic travel
expenses will be covered by Freedom House. If security concerns
make field research difficult, the contractor's ease of virtual
access to key movement participants will be all the more important.
The contractor will be asked to help shape and then to abide by
security procedures used by Freedom House to protect contractors
and their contacts in politically restrictive environments. Out of
an abundance of caution, candidates for this contract and any of
their research partners or assistants will be vetted as part of
this security procedure.
Candidates should have a background in sociology, political
science, investigative journalism, or a related field; a basic
understanding of how to construct counterfactual arguments; some
experience in the generation or testing of hypotheses using
empirical evidence; and experience conducting in-depth interviews.
Ideal candidates also have personal experience with pro-democracy
activism in the relevant country.
If you want to apply to this position, please submit a cover
letter detailing your qualifications, a resume/CV, and a 500-1000
word writing sample that addresses the question: in your opinion,
why did people take the risk of participating in a civic
mobilization at that time? Finalists will be asked to complete a
budget request and undergo a vetting process for security
Please note: if you attach a CV and a cover letter, you do not
need to duplicate that information in the online application form.
Please just fill out the basic contact information and anything
that is not covered by your CV and cover letter.
If you have further questions about the contract or the scope of
work, please contact Zack Medow at firstname.lastname@example.org.