15 November 2019 from 10:00 to 17:30

Interdisciplinary Symposium Identity and Inequality: the Role of Institutions

After the success of last year's symposium on "In- and exclusion; the Role of Institutions", Belle Derks, Marco van Leeuwen and Joop Schippers have again composed an engaging interdisciplinary programme on the topic of Inequality.

The aim of this symposium is to bring together researchers of different disciplines to shed light on the interaction between institutions and identity formation of individuals and groups in modern society.

Broad range of questions

Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Pepijn van Houwelingen (SCP), Kees van den Bos (Social psychology), Coen Teulings (Economics), Diederick Raven (Anthropology), and Tineke Fokkema (Demography, Erasmus University) will take the floor to address a broad range of questions on identity and inequality.

Which roles have institutions played in the development of Dutch national identity and feelings of inequality?

These questions include: what do the Dutch now think about Dutch values, norms and identity? Which roles have institutions and institutional change played in the development of Dutch national identity and feelings of inequality? Which counter-culture identities exists, and which roles have institutions and the media played in the development of counter-culture identity and feelings of inequality? To put the discussion on Dutch identity into perspective we will also address the question to what extent it is still possible to keep a national identity in “an ever closer” European Union. And to what extent can the difference between the European and the British identity account for Brexit?

This symposium will be especially of interest to scholars who want to discuss and learn about topics related to identity and inequality from multiple scientific perspectives.


Please find the abstracts and more information on the speakers below

10:00 – 10:30

Welcome with coffee and tea

10:30 – 10:35


10:40 – 11:10

Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Pepijn van Houwelingen (SCP)

"Dutch Identity"

11:30 – 12:05

Kees van den Bos (UU)


12:05 – 12.25

Artists impression

12:25 – 13:30


13:30 – 14:20

Tineke Fokkema (NIDI/EUR)

"Older migrants: one foot in each world"

14:20 – 15:10

Diederick Raven (UU)

"Confused identity"

15:10 – 15:40

Tea and coffee

15:40 – 16:30

Coen Teulings (UU)

"Pensions and risk sharing"

16:30 – 16:40

Closing remarks

16:40 – 17:30


Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Pepijn van Houwelingen: "Dutch Identity"

From the perspective of the Dutch citizen, it is possible to discern and describe a Dutch identity. Key elements in that identity are the Dutch language, as well as symbols and traditions. There are strikingly few differences between Dutch people based on gender, age, education level or origin. While there is essentially a consensus about what makes the Netherlands the Netherlands, there are some differences in opinion. Freedom is the major common denominator for many Dutch people, though how that concept is interpreted can vary and is sometimes contradictory. There is a tension between people who feel attachment to the Netherlands based on symbols and traditions, and people whose affective ties with the Netherlands derive from civic freedoms.

Sjoerd Beugelsdijk (PhD Tilburg University) is a full professor in international business and director of research at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He is an expert on globalization and cultural diversity. He has published more than 60 refereed articles and edited special issues in leading journals, such as the Journal of International Business Studies and Journal of Economic Geography. Sjoerd Beugelsdijk has held visiting positions at several universities including University of South Carolina, Copenhagen Business School, and Bocconi University. He has served as a head of department and academic director of the undergraduate international business program in Groningen. Dr. Beugelsdijk received over 1 million euros in competitive research grants (Rubicon, Veni, Vidi) of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. He has supervised 10 PhD projects and is the reviewing editor for the Journal of International Business Studies (2016-2022). He has edited and co-authored the 2019 government advisory board (Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau) report on ‘Dutch national identity’.

Pepijn van Houwelingen works as a researcher within the research group ‘Values and meaning’ of the Netherlands Institute for Social Research | SCP. He has studied Industrial Engineering and Management at Twente University and Japanese studies and (the philosophy of) economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He received his PhD from Hiroshima City University for his thesis ‘Social Capital in Japan’. He is and has been involved in research concerning values, meaning, national identity, sociology of religion, social cohesion, (political) participation and civil initiatives and is experienced in both quantitative and qualitative research and local policy analysis.

Kees van den Bos: "Why People Radicalize"

This talk focuses on the issue of why people radicalize. Part of the answer to this important question lies in people perceiving things in their world as profoundly unfair. For example, they feel that their group is being treated in blatantly unfair manners, or they judge crucial moral principles to be violated. These unfairness judgments jeopardize people's beliefs about how the world should look. Furthermore, these judgments feel real and genuine to those who constructed them. As a result, these unfairness judgments can fuel people’s radical beliefs, extremist behaviors, and support for terrorist acts. The paper argues that unfairness-inspired fueling of radicalization is especially likely when people feel uncertain about themselves and when they are insufficiently able to control their emotional reactions of anger toward those who are different from themselves. The talk draws upon real-world case studies pertaining to radical Muslims and right-wing and left-wing extremists.

Kees van den Bos is a Professor of Social Psychology, including the Social Psychology of Organizations, and a Professor of Empirical Legal Science at Utrecht University. His contribution to the academic debate lies in his combination of empirical legal research and social psychology – a combination that he has brought to fruition with the development of a research program that (1) systematically addresses fundamental questions pertaining to the experience of (in)justice, and (2) uses the basic insights thus obtained to understand complex social and societal phenomena that revolve around social conflict, trust and distrust in society, and radicalization, extremism and terrorism.

Diederick Raven: "Confused Identity: A Brexit inspired Case Study"

 ‘Identity’ shares with other concepts such as ‘capitalism’ that it partakes in a zone of shade obscurity – still it is difficult to do without. This despite that talk of ‘identity’ has become fashionable only in quite recent times.One of the intractable problems with identity talk is due to a methodological conundrum: are we talking about ascribed identity (I am a mathematician, a vegetarian, a Brexiteer, or a Federista (fan of Roger F.) or are we talking about imposed identity (you’re a fascists, you talk our great country down, you’re a heretic, she is a radical lefty) and how to calibrate this two sources of description. Do we need that the two even overlap. Even if there is an agreement ‘I am a proud Sinti’ vs ‘she belongs to a Sinti family’ you still may not have the same understanding of the connotations of the word Sinti: part of the Romani people versus people who leave a traveling life and are associated with misdemeanours.

            Imposed identities are troublesome for another reason: how do they differ from (national) stereotypes? Accepting that individual people aren’t cultural dopes how do you justify imposed identity labels which aggregate larger group of people into one.   One obvious way forward is Stuart Halls narrative rendering as ‘a discourse – a way of constructing meanings which influences and organizes both our actions and our conception of ourselves’. In this paper I’ll apply Hall’s narrative take on national identity and will use material from the book on Brexit I am currently in the business of finishing to deal with the UK national narrative of among others ‘we shall never be slaves’ and ‘we won the war’ to deal with some of the intractable problems of pinning down the institutional aspects of national identity. I’ll leave you with a brilliant cartoon that encapsulates some of the institutional aspects of the UK dealings with the EU which will feature in my presentation.

Diederik Raven studied (the history of) mathematics and philosophy at Utrecht University. By accident of career he ended up at the Department of Anthropology of his alma mater. The last 15 years he was active in the MA programme of the Department and he was instrumental in changing that programme into its current form of dealing with the problem of sustainable citizenship. His professional interest is in globalisation studies. His research interest deals with understanding, from a comparative perspective, the dominance of science and scientific knowledge in modern day society.

Tineke Fokkema: "Older Migrants: One Foot in Each World"

The older adult population in the Netherlands is not only increasing: it is also getting more diverse. It currently counts 332,000 people aged 55 and older with a non-Western migration background – this is 6% of the older population, including 108,000 of Moroccan and Turkish origin and 112,000 of Surinamese and Antillean origin. According to the population forecast of Statistics Netherlands, by 2040 this number will exceed 810,000, which represents 12% of the older population. Although these older migrants have spent most of their lives in the Netherlands, many feel a strong sense of belonging to their ‘own’ group and culture.

For example, older Moroccan and Turkish migrants are concentrated in specific neighbourhoods in the larger cities, many remain committed to traditional family values and they make little use of formal care for the elderly. In addition, they remain strongly connected to their country of origin by having regular contact with family and friends who stayed behind, by visiting their place of birth every year and by owning a house there. The first part of the presentation deals with these aspects, with special attention for differences between the first generation (the current older migrants) and the second generation (the future older migrants) and the underlying motives of transnational belonging. The second part focuses on the effect that belonging to the ‘own’ group and country of origin have on older migrants’ well-being.

Tineke Fokkema is a Senior Researcher at the Families & Generations group of the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW) and endowed professor of Ageing, Families and Migration at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Within IMISCOE she is coordinator of the Standing Committee ‘Older Migrants’. She is an internationally regarded specialist on ageing, intergenerational solidarity, migration, and their intersection. In 2014-2018 she was involved in the ERC Research project ‘Families in Context’ led by Prof. P.A. Dykstra, which focused on the social implications of growing old in a migration context. Fokkema has extensive experience with analyzing large-scale cross-national surveys (SHARE, GGS, TIES) and has done fieldwork among older migrants in Italy and Morocco. She holds a PhD in Economics from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and has published in leading academic journals (The Journals of Gerontology, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Population, Space and Place, European Journal of Ageing, Ageing and Society).

Coen Teulings: "Pensions and risk sharing" (abstract will follow)

Abstract t.b.a.

Coen Teulings (1958) is distinguished professor at Utrecht University as of January 1, 2018. Before he was professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge from 2013-2017 and part-time Professor of Economics at the University of Amsterdam from 2004-2017. He served 7 years as president of CPB, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, an influential financial think-tank of the Dutch Government that evaluates of the platforms of political parties prior to general elections. He was CEO of SEO Economic Research in Amsterdam from 2004 until 2006, Professor of Economics at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and director of the Tinbergen Institute from 1998 until 2004.

About the speakers

Read more about the speakers on their personal pages, by clicking on the images.

Institutions for Open Societies

Institutions for Open Societies (IOS) is one of the four interdisciplinary research areas of Utrecht University. IOS research focuses on the development and growth of healthy open societies everywhere.

Start date and time
15 November 2019 10:00
End date and time
15 November 2019 17:30