Dag van de Sociologie 2017

Last week, we celebrated the most important day for Dutch and Flemish sociologists, namely the Dag van de Sociologie at the VUB. One important moment during this annual meeting was awarding the NSV Master Thesis Prize to the best thesis of the year 2016. As board member of the Dutch Sociological Association NSV, I served as secretary for this prize. Chair of the jury was Geert de Vries. He awarded the prize to Kay Polidano (UvA) who wrote a magnificent thesis titled “Caring through a ‘Plastic Box’: An Inquiry into the Use of Remote Care Technology in Later Life”. The laudatio that Geert in name of all other jury members wrote can be retrieved from the NSV-website. The picture below was taken after the prize ceremony – credits go to Tom de Winter. From left to right: Geert de Vries (chair of the NSV Master Thesis Prize jury), laureate Kay Polidano, me, Rie Bosman (secretary of NSV).



Sociology Day – The Preparation!

In less than 12 hours, they Dag van de Sociologie (Annual Meeting of the Dutch and Flemish Sociological Associations) takes place at the VUB Free University of Brussels. During this day, more than 200 sociologists from Belgium, the Netherlands and abroad gather to exchange recent research insights. In addition, the board of the Dutch Sociological Association (of which I am part of) will gather, and the Master Thesis Prize (which I was the secretary for) will be awarded (more about that tomorrow).

In the meanwhile, I’m happy to present a paper that I recently wrote together with Koen Abts. In this paper, we test a proposition put forward by Christian Bjørnskov. In a 2007 paper, he argues that parliamentary monarchies bring about social trust. The logic behind it is that while partisan politics can be quite divisive, the King might serve as a uniting and binding factor, and might serve as a common national conscience that stands above social tensions. Further positive effects are described in Pippa Norris‘ 2008 book on power-sharing institutions. Our paper brings this argument down at the individual level, and questions whether people with positive opinions about the monarchy are more trusting. Analyzing the 2014 wave of the Belgian National Election Study, we actually show a negative relationship: those skeptical about the monarchy are actually most trusting. Because this relationship is particularly strong in Flanders (while absent in Wallonia), we actually question the extent to which the monarchy in Belgium is a uniting force that brings about social cohesion.

The slides can be retrieved from SlideShare!



The Sociology of Birthdays

Yesterday, I celebrated my 35th birthday. Normally, not a big issue. This year, it was a bit different: the Department asked me to give the keynote lecture at the Student Research Day 2017 – a day where all our students present their research findings (the first year students present on their work for the Social Problems course, the second year students present findings of their Learning Project, whereas the Bachelor, Premaster and Master students present their thesis). I advertised to present my research on immigration and the welfare state. However, I quickly switched topic to something more unfamiliar but extremely timely: the sociology of birthdays! The presentation can be retrieved from SlideShare.



Our Kids Book Review is Out!

The European Sociological Review just published my review of Robert Putnam‘s Our Kids. The American Dream in Crisis. As the Dutch Universities seem to have put their license for Oxford University Press publications on hold because of Open Access perils, it’s even a challenge for me to read my own book review in print. Anyway, my latest version before it was sent to the book reviews editor can be retrieved by contacting me.



Talk at HSE

Finally, after some months, the invited talk, hosted by Christian Fröhlich, that I gave at the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research at the Higher School of Economics (Moscow) has reached the surface. In this talked, I discussed the consequences of immigration for the welfare state. More specifically, I combined two papers in the presentation, namely first of all the question whether national identity is able to foster support for the welfare state, and secondly about the relevance of identity as deservingness criterion. After my presentation, we had a great discussion, followed by a lovely dinner at one of the Khachapuri restaurants, known for its delicious Georgian cuisine. The talk was filmed by Dmitry Zakotyansky (see picture below the clip) – thanks for that!



Preparing for Athens

This week, the General Assembly of the European Values Study will take place in Athens. Being the European counterpart of the World Values Survey, the EVS is a large-scale cross-national survey on political and social attitudes carried out every nine years among representative samples of European countries. From this year onwards, I am the National Program Director of the Dutch fieldwork. In this role, I will participate in this EVS-meeting. The program on Friday is quite tight, with a discussion on the budget, the new questionnaire, insights on sampling strategies and the translation process, as well as information on how to collect data through web surveys. More information to come!



Christian Froehlich at the Sociology Colloquium

This afternoon, Christian Froehlich, Assistant Professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, presented his research on Urban Activism in contemporary Moscow. Christian is in Tilburg on an Erasmus+ program – actually the same scholarship that brought me to Moscow in November to teach a course on Social Capital in the Master Program. Apart from presenting his research in the Sociology Colloquium, Christian also contributes to other courses this week, for instance Populism in Comparative Perspective and Values and Civil Society in Europe.



March for Science

Today, I will participate in the March for Science, which will take place at Museumplein, Amsterdam. The Dutch Sociological Association (NSV) has launched an official statement, which I fully endorse. Apologies that this post is in Dutch:

De Nederlandse Sociologische Vereniging (NSV) ondersteunt de March for Science die op 22 april in Amsterdam en wereldwijd plaatsvindt. De NSV staat voor pluriforme en onpartijdige wetenschap die betrokken is bij de samenleving. De March for Science is een viering van de betekenis die wetenschap in een democratische samenleving kan spelen, in reactie op recente ontwikkelingen die de relatie tussen wetenschappelijke kennis enerzijds en politiek anderzijds op scherp stellen.
Anti-wetenschappelijke tendensen lijken groeiende en dat baart de NSV grote zorgen. De huidige politieke koers in onder andere de Verenigde Staten, Hongarije en Turkije bedreigt onafhankelijk wetenschappelijk onderzoek. Ook in Nederland worden uitkomsten van wetenschappelijk onderzoek steeds vaker afgedaan als “ook maar een mening” en ten onrechte tot een partijdige positie gereduceerd.
Met talloos veel anderen delen wij de opvatting dat onafhankelijke wetenschapsbeoefening een belangrijke bijdrage kan leveren aan een vreedzame, democratische en welvarende wereld. Onafhankelijk wetenschappelijk onderzoek en de vrije uitwisseling van informatie zijn van wezenlijk belang voor alle sectoren van de samenleving en kunnen bijdragen aan gefundeerd beleid .
Wij moedigen onze leden aan op 22 april mee te lopen in de March for Science en met ons het belang van vrije wetenschap te onderstrepen. De bijeenkomst start om 12.00 op het Museumplein in Amsterdam. Meer informatie via www.marchforscience.nl.

And a cartoon in Dutch from 3hoog/Fotostrips about the March for Science to wrap it all up:




European Youth During the Great Recession

A new co-authored publication with Leen Vandecasteele (University of Tüebingen) has recently been published in the International Journal of Psychology. In this manuscript, Leen and I study the extent to which young people are affected by the Great Recession. We study how the individual experience of economic hardship, or living in a context of economic downturn, has had an influence on subjective well-being, social and political attitudes, and human values. In our study, we combine several techniques (multilevel analysis on cross-sectional data, as well as fixed-effects regression on a pseudo-panel based) to respond to our research question. In line with existing studies, we show that human values are unaffected by economic hardship; subjective well-being is lower among those experiencing economic strain. Social attitudes are inconsistently affected by hardship: particularly those directed at society (e.g. political trust and satisfaction with the economy) are depressed by economic downturns.