Thematische sessies

Causes and Consequences of Social Networks
Urban Ethnography in the Low Countries: A State of Affairs
Gender and Sexuality in Digital Times: Living Digital and Digital Living after COVID-19
Sociologists and Socio-Environmental Issues: Research and Responsibilities
Political Sociology – The Sociology of Voting
Nederlandse mantelzorger onder druk
Integrating Diverse Views on Cultural Integration
Critical Methods to Measure and Understand Discrimination on the Labour and Housing Market
The Context of Discrimination and Racism
Higher Education Institutions: An Inequality Regime?
Social Networks for Migrant Integration


Voorzitters: Myra Bosman (UvA) & Phie van Rompu (UvA)

This panel aims to address the importance of embodiment to sociological analyses. Despite earlier calls to take corporeality into account (Shilling, 1993), embodied experiences as forms of knowledge and drivers of social practices remain underexposed in sociology. Embodied knowledge – the sense of what is meaningful to do, when and how to do it — provides one of the most important ways to navigate social worlds; social life is impossible without it. However, up till now, we do not know much about this form of knowledge, how we learn it and how we use it. While a great deal of sociological work still tends to rely on cognitive explanations of behavior (e.g. values, attitudes, moral orientations), this panel puts the body center stage in understanding social action. We study the body as mediator and creator of the social, rather than a fixed, material entity that is subject to the social, as earlier studies of embodiment tended to do (Csordas, 1990). We welcome papers that take embodiment as vantage point from which to investigate social practices, relations and interactions. We are open to theoretical and/or empirical informed analyses into embodied experiences, ranging from everyday sensory sensations (like sex) to the more exceptional (like violence). Shedding light on a diversity of embodied themes, this panel will contribute to a more thorough understanding of how embodied experiences can be integrated into sociological analyses.


Causes and Consequences of Social Networks
Voorzitter: Bas Hofstra (RU)

From waking up and checking in on our phones to see whether our friends reached out to us, to solving problems with your colleagues or classmates, to playing team sports: social networks are a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. A strong tradition of sociological research has considered the causes – i.e., what determines tie formation and network structure? – as well as the consequences – i.e., what impacts do these ties and structures have on our lives and society? – of social networks. The analytic power of the “social network perspective” is noticed elsewhere too; during the last two decades it has increasingly populated other academic disciplines (physics, computer science, economics, and so forth). Logically so, as the framework allows to address a myriad of key societally relevant questions. Why do some become socially isolated? Why are some teams successful and others not? How do diseases spread through communities? How do informal contacts help people obtain jobs?
The goal of this panel is to showcase Dutch and Belgian social network research. The panel welcomes papers on either or both the causes and consequences of social networks. These papers can vary substantially in topics and methodology. From theoretical papers that propose new hypotheses on tie formation, to methodological advances on big data analyses of network clustering, to empirical studies testing new hypotheses on bullying in classroom networks. The common denominator of this panel is social networks, and note that this does not strictly implies “personal” networks. Some network causes and consequences are inherently socially structured without strict person-to-person ties. Hence, this panel also welcomes papers on, for instance (and among others), large-scale citation networks, or semantic networks drawn from natural language.


Urban Ethnography in the Low Countries: A State of Affairs
Voorzitters: Thomas Swerts (EUR) & Eva Swyngedouw (VUB)

Ever since pioneers of the Chicago School followed up on Robert Park’s advice to ‘get the seat of your pants dirty in real research’, ethnography has occupied a special place within urban sociology (see Park and Burgess 1925). A century later, the centrality of ethnography within the discipline has faded. In an academic environment where spending lengthy periods of time in the field is difficult to rhyme with other obligations, quantitative standards are favored to assess academic output and results need to be easily translatable into policy recommendations, the viability and feasibility of ethnography is challenged (see e.g. Stinchcombe 1999). In spite of these institutional odds, however, the method is undergoing a revival with ethnographies such as ‘Gang leader for a Day’ (Venkatesh 2008), ‘On The Run’ (Goffman 2014) and ‘Evicted’ (Desmond 2016) sparking fierce debates on urban exclusion in- and outside academia. Yet, the geographical bias in the literature as well as the relative absence of an institutionalized tradition in the Low Countries makes this appear as a rather American affair.
In this panel, we make the case for the continued relevance of urban ethnography to study social transformations in the Low Countries (see Driessen et al. 2016, Vandermoere et al. 2016). As Engbersen and de Haan (2006: 13) have argued, ‘old’ methods like ethnography acquire renewed relevance for the future of the discipline in the age of globalization. Add shock events like the financial ‘crisis’, the migration ‘crisis’ and the upsurge in right-wing populism to the list and the need for up-close, in-depth urban ethnographies seems more necessary than ever. We therefore invite papers that a) present ethnographic research on Dutch/Belgian cities, b) discuss methodological or ethical issues related to doing ethnographic fieldwork in such cities and/or c) reflect on the relevance of urban ethnography for Dutch/Flemish sociology.


Gender and Sexuality in Digital Times: Living Digital and Digital Living after COVID-19
Voorzitters: Ladan Rahbari (UvA) & Giulia Evolvi (EUR)

In the past two decades, digital media have grown exponentially to occupy a central location in human interactions, perceptions, and relations. There is extensive sociological research on digital technologies and their impact on expressions and performances of gender and sexuality (Dhoest and Szulc 2016; Rahbari 2020). Because of the rapid developments and the proliferation of media technologies, sociologists need to continuously explore the new challenges in the field. In particular, it is increasingly relevant to look at the intersections of gender and sexuality with migration, race/ethnicity, religion, (dis)ability class. Furthermore, the study of digitality in relation to gender and sexuality now has a new challenge, as the COVID19 pandemic and its impact on individual and collective modes of living have revealed the advantages and limitations of living digital ‘lives.’ The panel’s title ‘Living Digital and Digital Living’ points to this very fact: that the social consequences of mass-transition to digital spheres does not only change the media of interaction and communication but transforms the very thread of social lives. In this panel, we ask whether this increased digitality has impacted the way gender and sexuality are perceived, performed, and lived. We ask: how do the affordances of digital media impact performances of gender and sexualities? How do people discuss their gendered/sexual identities online? How does the COVID-19 pandemic create new online venues for people to debate gender/sexuality? We aim to bring together social scientists interested in the recent developments in the study of gender and sexuality in contemporary digital times, specifically after the spread of the COVID19 pandemic. We welcome abstracts that include themes such as – but not limited to – digitality and gendered/sexual precarity, gender and digital solidarity, sexual netizenship and digital diaspora, gender and sexuality assemblages, human-non-human interactions, new sites and modes of gendered and sexual (self-)representation.


Sociologists and Socio-Environmental Issues: Research and Responsibilities
Voorzitters: Robbe Geerts (UA), Frédéric Vandermoere (UA), Ewoud Vandepitte (UA), Benoît El-Achkar (UA)

From climate activism to the yellow vest movement: socio-environmental issues and conflicts are increasingly present in our society. Who benefits from environmental policy? How do people perceive their environmental surroundings? This session focusses on the interactions between social issues and environmental problems. While sociologists have always studied the social world, environmental sociology only became an important sociological subdiscipline during the last decennia. Its main assertion is the inseparable bond between the human and nonhuman world. We are increasingly aware of the fact that environmental and social problems are intertwined. The current pandemic is exemplary in this regard, intersecting with issues of e.g. access to green infrastructures, and on a macro-scale how social systems enable the spreading of viruses.
On the one hand, environmental problems shape the social world. They are the subject of debate, and they evoke responses such as protests, environmental movements and policy change. Furthermore, they seem to create new inequalities or perpetuate existing ones. Environmental hazards such as air pollution seem to disproportionally affect marginalised groups. Moreover, the same groups are often excluded from environmental amenities such as green space and healthy food. On the other hand, environmental problems are entrenched within social systems. Many of these problems have societal causes. Moreover, our interpretation of environmental problems is socially and culturally constructed. Furthermore, existing social structures influence the way we respond to environmental problems (e.g. attitudes concerning these issues can be gendered).
Different sociological research domains can be connected to environmental problems. These entail, but are not limited to: power, gender, social movements and social networks. For this panel, a wide range of theoretical and empirical contributions on the social-environmental intersection are welcomed. Furthermore, authors are invited to discuss how knowledge on these issues may trigger social and environmental change.


Political Sociology – The Sociology of Voting
Voorzitter: Marcel Lubbers (UU)

Many ground-breaking elections took place in the last years. The rise and defeat of Trump; Brexit; the major gains of Forum for Democracy at the Provincial elections in 2019, and the unexpected success of the labour party for the European elections, hypothesized to be a party-leader effect (Frans Timmermans). The parliamentary elections still coming up when proposing this panel, these promise to be historical elections as well, at the (end of) the covid-19 pandemic. In this panel the sociological perspective on voting are central, asking submissions on questions on electoral participation, class-voting, voting for specific parties, such as the radical right and greens and group-specific voting (such as immigrant voting for immigrant interest parties). Question that are directed to get an understanding of voting in context are welcomed in particular.


Nederlandse mantelzorger onder druk
Voorzitters: Klara Raiber (RU), Ellen Verbakel (RU), Marjolein Broese Van Groenou (VU)

Burgers maken zich al lange tijd ongerust over de onderlinge hulp voor zieke naasten, ook wel mantelzorg genoemd. Voor de pandemie was een op de tien mantelzorgers overbelast door de hulp die zij bieden en de verwachting is dat de druk de komende jaren zal toenemen en waarschijnlijk ook de belasting die hiermee gepaard gaat. Dit komt onder andere doordat er meer ouderen zullen zijn die behoefte hebben aan hulp, terwijl er minder mensen zijn die hen hierbij kunnen helpen, en van deze mensen ook verwacht wordt dat ze participeren in betaald werk of opleiding. Op de Dag van de Sociologie geven we een diagnose van de huidige mantelzorg – tijdens de pandemie, maar ook in het algemeen. Te behandelen onderzoeksvragen kunnen bijvoorbeeld zijn:
– Hoe veranderde mantelzorg door COVID-19?
– Hoe ervaren de ontvangers mantelzorg?
– Welke gevolgen ondervinden helpers vanwege het geven van mantelzorg?
– Welke socio-economische verschillen in mantelzorg zijn er?
– Wat zijn de kwetsbare groepen mantelzorgers?
– Welke (beleids)oplossingen helpen mantelzorgers?


Integrating Diverse Views on Cultural Integration
Voorzitters: Saskia Glas (RU) & Nella Geurts (RU)

In Western Europe, public debates on migration have increasingly turned to integration in a cultural sense. Whereas in previous decades integration debates questioned phenomena as migrants’ economic integration and labor market potential, recent debates have emphasized migrants’ (lack of) cultural integration above structural integration. Do migrants feel like they are part of their host society? Or do they feel as if they are cultural others who do not belong to their host societies no matter how long they have lived there? Do migrants incorporate to those values that are said to be “core” to Western European societies, such as gender equality? Or do migrants keep on the cultural backpack they carry with them from their origin societies?
This panel brings together diverse views on migrants’ cultural integration. We aim to create understanding in various domains of cultural integration, ranging from attitudes towards gender equality to (transnational) ways of parenting. Instead of comparing such outcomes to the non-migrant population, we argue that an intracategorical focus on migration populations only will shed new light on integration processes. Additionally, this panel pays special attention to gendered facets of cultural integration, for instance by focusing on mothers or migrants’ views of homosexuality. All contributions thus zoom in on processes of cultural integration among migrants, looking for stronger conceptualizations and explanations.
At the same time, the contributions discuss different frameworks, methodologies, facets of cultural integration, and in doing so target different audiences, where we discuss and relate scientific contributions as well as practice-oriented insights. Ultimately, the panel aims to further discussions to create new connections and insights that advance our thinking on migrants’ cultural integration in Western-Europe.


Critical Methods to Measure and Understand Discrimination on the Labour and Housing Market
Voorzitter: Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (VUB)

In this panel scholars examine new, innovative ways to measure and explain discrimination. We look for methods and frameworks that can be used to uncover underlying mechanisms of racism and discrimination on both the housing and labour market. Methods to measure these underlying mechanisms are scarce and evoke a lot of methodological concerns. Moreover, theoretical frameworks as statistical and taste-based discrimination have been dominant in theory construction, but are seldom questioned. In addition to field experiments to test these explanatory mechanisms of discrimination, this panel also explores other methods to measure and conceptualise the different forms that racism and discrimination could take.


The Context of Discrimination and Racism
Voorzitter: Abel Ghekiere (VUB)

Racism and discrimination are often considered in terms of individual perpetuators and victims. Discriminatory employers and real estate agents should, for example, be punished and victims should make formal complaints. This individual approach is reaching its limits. Racism and discrimination do not emerge in a societal vacuum. People are social beings who act within the context of a company, school, neighbourhood, municipality or broader society. Context matters. Let’s contextualize racism. Which factors on the level of an organization, neighbourhood or municipality might have an impact on discrimination? Which roles play the political discourse and the media? How are our innate tendencies to think in boxes stirred up in the society and how can we contain them? Once we deeply understand the contextual dynamics of racism and discrimination, we might change this context too. Many other societal problems are tackled both individually and collectively. Let’s do the same with racism.


Higher Education Institutions: An Inequality Regime
Voorzitter: Dounia Bourabain (VUB)

Higher education is often described as a place of merit and equal opportunities. Especially in the past decade with the increasing diversification of the student body in terms of gender, race and class the belief in equality strengthened. Although the student population is slowly but surely diversifying, higher education fails in diversifying its faculty. More specifically, research shows a leaky pipeline where the share of women and people of color decreases in the higher echelons of academia. With this panel we would like to explore different topics that investigate the drivers, mechanisms and dynamics behind the monolithic institution and this in the context of Belgian universities. More specifically, we lend the concept from sociologist Joan Acker who introduced the notion of ‘inequality regimes’. This means that higher education institutions can be studied as an institution whose ‘practices, processes, actions and meanings result in and maintain class, gender and racial inequalities’ (Acker, 2009, p.201). It entails how higher education institutions are built around a certain -often invisible- norm of, amongst others, masculinity, whiteness and classism. We welcome quantitative and qualitative papers that study higher education from an inequality perspective. Moreover, we would like the contributions to address questions such as: How do tertiary students and/or staff from marginalized communities experience higher education? How do they navigate themselves in this institutional space? Which coping strategies did they develop? What is the role of institutional policies -such as diversity and equality policies- in the lived experiences of students and/or staff from marginalized communities?

The Role of Social Networks in Migrant Integration
Voorzitters: Verena Seibel (RUG) & Basak Bilecen (RUG)

While the network approach in migration studies has always been on the agenda, application of network analysis in migration studies has only recently been on the rise: Social networks are acknowledged to have important roles in different phases of international migration (Bilecen and Lubbers, 2021). Having personal ties to previous international migrants tend to increase the propensity for others to migrate, too. Going beyond the role of personal ties in initiating migration, most of the social network research is conducted during migrants’ settlement phase concerning their adaptation to a novel environment. Such networks are acknowledged to have a variety of important functions, for example, in supporting (potential) migrants for finding accommodation, employment, and education places. Local and transnational networks also play a major role in migrants’ well-being through providing emotional support and creating an environment for belonging. Nonetheless, some personal relationships might be too tight and controlling, or not valued as much in the hierarchy of the receiving contexts. In this Panel ‘The Role of Social Networks in Migrant Integration’ we invite scholars and PhD students who work on similar topics from different theoretical perspectives and methodologies (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods) to present their work on the following topics:
– How do different roles of social networks in different phases of international migration influence migrants’ experiences?
– How do migrants organize social support within and across borders?
– Who are considered as negative ties? How do negative ties affect migrants’ integration?
– How do social networks change over time and what are the main implications of such changes?
– How can we study tie formation and tie dissolution across borders?
– What are the ethical and practical challenges in the fieldwork using social network analytical tools?