Professor James Kennedy on ‘Dutch Work Ethic’
‘This is our University’ - Lecture series
The Faculty Club, in collaboration with the International Neighbour Group, organizes a series of lectures (‘This is our University’) on a range of interesting, compelling topics, delivered by university professors of Utrecht University.
The Dutch Work Ethic
The Dutch built a reputation as a hard-working, industrious people. Their zeal for labour was fed, as many believed, by the old Protestant work ethic. As late as 1960, factory and office workers were putting in 48-hour weeks and housewives toiled even longer, about nine hours a day. Today, the Dutch put in the least number of weekly hours of any European nation, and emphatically claim that work is not the most important part of their lives. What happened? And have Dutch attitudes toward work – and life – really changed altogether? Premier Mark Rutte, after all, likes to appeal to ‘de hardwerkende Nederlander’.
In this presentation James Kennedy will sketch the Dutch work ethic in historical and comparative perspective. By revisiting developments in recent decades he will touch on some paradoxes of the Dutch situation. These include the unusually big gap between workers with fixed and temporary contracts, the way the Dutch cherish progressive and conservative attitudes toward work at the same time, and how work continues to be the centerpiece of individual identity in a society that downplays its importance. The presenter will conclude by reflecting with the audience on how the Dutch work ethic both helps and hinders human flourishing.
James C. Kennedy is professor of modern Dutch history at the Universiteit Utrecht. Originally from the United States, he moved to the Netherlands in 2003 to serve as professor of history at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and later the Universiteit van Amsterdam. From 2015 to 2020 he was Dean of University College Utrecht, and since 2021 Distinguished Professor of Community Engaged Learning at the UU. He has written extensively on the postwar Netherlands, and received funding for research on euthanasia, drugs policy, corruption, social policies of exclusion, and church-state relations. He is author, among other works, of The Concise History of the Netherlands (Cambridge, 2017). In 2021 he wrote the essay for History Month on the postwar work ethic in the Netherlands. He comments on current events as a columnist for the Dutch daily Trouw.
After the lecture, at around 19.30 hours, dinner with the speaker will be served in an informal setting.
Entrance to the lecture, including welcome drinks, dinner, coffee, tea, is € 25.50. All members of the university community, including (especially) international members of staff, are warmly invited. You’re welcome to bring your partner or friend.
17.30 - 18.00: Walk-in with welcome drink (Belle van Zuylenzaal)
18.00 - 19.15: Lecture James Kennedy (in English) (Belle van Zuylenzaal)
19.15 - 21.00: Dinner and opportunity to chat with the speaker (Huiskamer)
Location: Faculty Club, Achter de Dom 7A, Utrecht
- Start date and time
- End date and time
- Entrance fee
- Entrance to the lecture, including welcome drinks, dinner, coffee, tea, is € 25.50. All members of the university community, including (especially) international members of staff, are warmly invited. You’re welcome to bring your partner or friend.
Please, register here. Registration is on a first come, first serve basis.