How the lives of young people progress in a complex world


Dutch society is undergoing far-reaching changes, and that applies to young people too.  Increasing secularisation, growing ethnic diversity, the rise of online media, globalisation and individualism mean that young people are growing up in different circumstances than their parents.  How do these social processes affect the way the lives of these young people progress?  The subject is being researched by Utrecht University with other European research institutes in the Youth in Europe Study (YES!).

YES! is a major sociological research project looking at young people in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  The YES! research project is asking more than 20,000 young people about the following aspects:

  • religion and identity
  • norms and values
  • prosocial attitudes
  • criminal activities
  • social contacts
  • online and other networks
  • school careers
  • transition to the labour market

By interviewing young people over a longer period of time, we can chart and describe how their lives are progressing, and give an explanation for this.

Young Dutch people who are not from ethnic minorities are becoming less and less religious, while many of their ethnic minority counterparts are religious. What tensions does this cause, and how are we dealing with this?


One project is looking specifically at the significance of religion for young people.  In an ever-more secular society, religion is becoming increasing irrelevant to many ‘indigenous’ young people.  On the other hand, there are many young people with an immigrant background who grow up with religious values and practices. How do children in this latter category deal with this tension between the different roles that religion plays - at home and in society?  And how do the largely secular group of ethnic Dutch young people deal with those from ethnic minorities and ‘alien’ religious values and practices? In cooperation with the ‘Trouw’ newspaper, as part of this project articles are being published for a wide audience, and conferences organised.

Another study is looking specifically at the significance of social media for young people.