Moira de Kok and Jarne van der Poel win 2022-2023 thesis awards
During the opening of the faculty year Humanities 2023-2024, the prizes for the best Master’s thesis and Research Master’s thesis were awarded again. Jarne van der Poel and Moira de Kok were this year’s recipients.
The social rent stripped down
It was Jarne van der Poel (MA History of Politics and Society) who won the prize for the best Master’s thesis. In his "Heerma, Not Like This!" Social Housing, Neoliberal Reform and Resistance in the Netherlands 1986-1995, he examined the privatisation of the Dutch social housing sector during the government periods of Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers and State Secretary Enneüs Heerma (1982-1994). “In political The Hague this major change was accepted without any resistance,” Van der Poel says. He wanted to understand how this was possible, as it was a time of social unrest.
“With the help of parliamentary documents and reports, I show how many politicians considered neoliberal ideas such as market forces and privatisation inevitable. They embraced these ideas and saw no other options, reinforced by Heerma’s persuasive ‘there is no alternative’ rhetoric. Today, many see these reforms as the beginning of the crumbling of social housing in the Netherlands.”
In its report, the jury calls the thesis topic “particularly urgent and relevant” and the argumentation “strongly supported”. “The jury even found the work to be of such high quality that, after some modifications, it could be published in an academic journal. Moreover, an abridged version could also appeal to government bodies and a wider audience.” The panel members therefore hope that Jarne’s insights will find their way into the political and social arena.
“I am of course honoured that my thesis receives this appreciation,” Van der Poel responds. “My sincere thanks to the jury, also for the time they put into their deliberation. Looking at both my own work and that of the other nominees, I am also very pleased that theses have been chosen that contribute to current social discussions.”
All nominees about their research
Curious about what Jarne van der Poel and Moira de Kok say about their research? In this video, they and the other nominees explain their theses themselves.
The sound of solidarity
Moira de Kok (RMA Musicology) took home the prize for the best Research Master’s thesis for her Sounds of Solidarity: Music in the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike. “Ideas about solidarity shape ideas about pop music and vice versa,” De Kok explains. “The word ‘solidarity’ evokes utopian images: if we all come together and support each other, we can solve all of this society’s problems. But, for this very reason, solidarity is also fragile.”
“Pop music is seen as something that can bring people together and influence their thinking. Therefore, music is also seen as a medium that can – or should – save solidarity. Music also shapes solidarity, for instance by reusing political songs and genres from the past. This can consciously or unconsciously both promote inclusiveness and exclude groups from solidarity.”
“The enthusiasm just oozes from it,” the jury writes about De Kok’s thesis. The members praise not only the use of language, but also the “creative and sublime” mix of disciplines and De Kok’s analysis of her case studies. “The jury found the quality of this thesis to be such that they see great potential in it to be rewritten as a scientific monograph, especially as an innovative model is proposed in relation to musicology and solidarity studies.”
De Kok is honoured with the award. “It’s a great honour to receive it. Although the case study in my thesis is quite specific, it was always my goal to show how musicological research can be relevant to a wide audience, and I see this award as a great confirmation.”