20 January 2015

Frank van Tubergen receives Ammodo KNAW Award 2015 for Social Sciences

On the recommendation of an advisory committee of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Ammodo Foundation, the Ammodo KNAW Award 2015 for Social Sciences (an amount of three hundred thousand euros) has been awarded to Frank Tubergen, professor of theoretical and empirical sociology at Utrecht University.

The research

Frank van Tubergen’s field is sociology, the social science of how people live together. His interests are at the heart of society and they touch on themes about which almost everyone these days has strong views: migration, religion, language acquisition, social networks, discrimination and social inequality.

As a sociologist Van Tubergen does not allow himself to be side-tracked by the wide variety of societal opinions. He looks objectively at facts, causes, consequences and mechanisms. He systematises, measures, analyses and comes up with theories which he tests to discover the underlying reality. He collects, combines and compares interdisciplinary research from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, the UK, the United States and (more recently) Saudi Arabia. He uses laboratory experiments, population studies and administrative registration systems. He relates his observations in a self-developed and now widely used, universal model.

Why are friends and acquaintances often from the same ethnic group? What are the consequences of ethnic segregation for the training and work opportunities of immigrants and natives? Why is income inequality in the US so much greater than in Europe? Why were the recent revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East so unexpected? These are all questions that he finds fascinating.

His long list of publications illustrates his broad and international interests: inter-ethnic relations in Germany; structural and cultural explanations for interracial marriages in the United States since 1880; international comparison of the religiosity of immigrants in Europe.

He often finds that thorough scientific review reveals superficial observations and analysis to be seriously flawed. As a sociologist, he saw no evidence of ‘multicultural drama’ or ‘mass immigration’ and he did not hesitate to speak out against such misconceptions. Instead he noted that children from migrant families are actually making a lot of progress; that the number of immigrants to the Netherlands fluctuated but certainly did not grow explosively; Moroccan boys are indeed overrepresented in crime, but that can be explained by their socio-economic position, the size of their families and the influence of peers in their environment, not on the basis of their ethnic background.

The researcher

Frank van Tubergen (1976) is a professor of theoretical and empirical sociology at Utrecht University. After taking doctoral exams in sociology and philosophy in Nijmegen, he graduated (cum laude) from the Faculty of Sociology in Utrecht. In 2009 he was appointed professor. His awards include NWO Veni and Vidi grants as well as substantial funding from the European Framework Programme. In 2011 he became a fellow of the European Academy of Sociology and was elected to the Young Academy.