Dutch society is known for its stable levels of high trust among citizens. Over the past decade, these high levels of trust coincide with low levels of trust in the government as well as considerable levels of societal discomfort.
Negative feelings about the government and pessimism about the future of Dutch society are particularly present among citizens who entail a vulnerable position. This vulnerability manifests itself in a lack of economic resources combined with a shortage of individual (e.g., health, self-esteem), social (e.g., social network) and cultural (e.g., social assets, digital skills) resources.
In this AISSR Lecture, Karen van Oudenhoven argues that dividing lines in society, caused by increased structural inequality between citizens, give rise to affective forms of polarization that may ultimately threaten the position of Dutch society as a high trust society.
Karen van Oudenhoven-van der Zee has served as the director of the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) since 1 October 2022. Before that, she was vice-rector at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam and dean of that university’s Faculty of Social Sciences. Her previous positions included that of dean at the University of Twente and director of the Institute for Integration and Social Efficacy at the University of Groningen.
Van Oudenhoven graduated cum laude in Personality Psychology and Work and Organisational Psychology and wrote her PhD dissertation on the role of personality and social environment in coping with cancer. Since 2001, she has occupied chairs in her field at the University of Groningen and Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam. Internationally, she is well known for her research into intercultural competences and integration of cultural minorities in organizations and the broader society. Besides serving as the director of the SCP, she is currently endowed professor of Societal Resilience at VU Amsterdam.
The lecture was followed by a conversation between Karen van Oudenhoven and Tom van der Meer, professor in Political Science, in particular Legitimacy, Inequality and Citizenship at the AISSR, University of Amsterdam.