IOS Platform (In)Equality symposium: Contemporary inequality: The post-industrial class structure based on four types of capital


In March this year, The Netherlands Institute for Social Research|SCP publishes a new study on the contemporary Dutch class structure. Its key message is that structural inequality should not only be understood in terms of education, occupation or income and wealth. In post-industrial society, such economic capital has become intertwined with disparities in other resources: 'who you know' (social capital), 'where you fit in' (cultural capital) and 'who you are' (person capital: health and attractiveness). A similar approach has been taken for the UK by Mike Savage and colleagues (A New Model of Social Class, 2013; Social Class in the 21st Century, 2015). The current publication is a follow-up to an SCP study conducted in 2014 (Verschil in Nederland/Disparities in the Netherlands).

The new way of looking at class relations has been applied in a detailed survey of the Dutch, combined with microdata from CBS registrations. In this edition, the number of respondents is much larger than in 2014 (6,800 instead of 3,000) and the measurement of the various resources has been extended. This includes, for example, more detailed information on income, wealth, and labour market position; more sophisticated measures of networks and lifestyles; and people’s first names as an indicator of cultural capital. The study thus provides an updated and more accurate picture of the class structure in the Netherlands. It also shows how class divisions coincide with other social distinctions (age, gender, ethnic background), and with differences in subjective well-being and people’s views on society and politics. Finally, the new publication identifies a number of do’s and don’ts for social policy.

In the symposium Contemporary Inequality: The Post-Industrial Class Structure Based on Four Types of Capital, we focus on the academic significance of this new publication. After an introduction of the report by SCP, we will discuss this, drawing on the reflections of a number of distinguished referees on the potential of this approach for inequality theory and research in their own disciplines.

The symposium is organised by the (in)Equality Platform of the Strategic Theme ‘Institutions for Open Societies’ at Utrecht University.


Academiegebouw (Belle van Zuylenzaal), Domplein 29, 3512 JE Utrecht. We can accommodate a maximum of 60 participants.


12.15-13.00     Meet-up and lunch

13:00-13:05     Opening and welcome

                        Prof. Marco van Leeuwen (Utrecht University)

13.05-13.45     Contemporary Inequality: Key Findings

                        Prof. Cok Vrooman (SCP & Utrecht University)

13.45-14.25     Perspective from Economics

                        Prof. Joop Schippers (Utrecht University)

14.25-15.05     Perspective from Sociology

                        Prof Thijs Bol (University of Amsterdam)

15.05-15.30     Tea break

15.30-16.10     Perspective from Public Health

                        Prof. Karien Stronks (Amsterdam UMC)

16.10-16.50     Perspective from Social Law

                        Prof. Gijsbert Vonk (University of Groningen)

16.50-17.00     Closing

17.00-18.00     Drinks

Start date and time
End date and time
Academiegebouw, Belle van Zuylenzaal
Entrance fee

Admission to the symposium is by invitation only. Please register Before March 21st  via REGISTRATION FORM. We can accommodate a maximum of 60 participants.