PhD defence Laurens van Esch: ‘Sociocultural interventions’, a new vocabulary for political action

Demonstrerende mensen bij een Black Lives Matter-protest. Foto: Joe Yates, via Unsplash

On 26 May, Laurens van Esch will defend his thesis ‘Sociocultural Interventions: The Performative Augmentation of the Social Imaginary’.

Politics is more than debate

In political life, arguments and debate play a prominent role, just think of parliamentary debates, talk shows, and social media. This can make it seem attractive to view politics and debate virtually synonymous. But political life also encompasses all kinds of other forms of political action, Van Esch argues, which sometimes have a profound influence the outcomes of decision-making. He mentions vigils, demonstrations, and sit-ins, among others.

Sociocultural interventions

In his dissertation, Van Esch develops a theoretical vocabulary to interpret and discuss these forms of political action, which he calls sociocultural interventions. He pays particular attention to the sociocultural interventions of emancipation movements that explicitly invoke worldviews from which political actors derive a sense of purpose and identity.

The public sphere should not be seen exclusively as a place where citizens try to convince each other of different points of view by means of argument, Van Esch stresses, but also as a place where political actors creatively and innovatively engage with historical traditions of existential meaning. This insight is also important from the perspective of a commitment to democratic equality, he feels.

Start date and time
End date and time
Hybrid: online (click here) and at the Utrecht University Hall
PhD candidate
L.M. van Esch
Sociocultural Interventions: The Performative Augmentation of the Social Imaginary
PhD supervisor(s)
Professor H.H.A. van den Brink
Dr C. Baumgartner