Kobe De Keere is assistant professor in cultural sociology and a Veni Grant holder. He holds Master’s degrees in philosophy (Ghent University) and sociology (Free University of Brussels) and received a Ph.D. in sociology from the Free University of Brussels. His dissertation research involved an analysis of the role of individualism, as a cultural discourse, within modern society with an emphasis on class conflict and historical change. He published on topics such as individualism, modernization, educational inequality, cultural class boundaries and moral and political conflicts. Currently, his main research focus is on subjects such as moral boundaries, gatekeeping mechanisms and evaluation practices within the labor market.
He is a member of the program group Cultural Sociology of the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam and a fellow of the Norbert Elias Foundation. He has been a part of the TOR-research group of the Free University of Brussels, a visiting scholar at the Affective Science Group of the Social Psychology Department at the University of Oslo and a Weatherhead visiting fellow at Harvard University. Besides that he is a board member of the Dutch Sociological Association (NSV) and a member of the editorial boards of Sociologos, Sociologie and Journal of Cultural Analysis and Social Change.
Occupational differences form the bedrock of our social stratification system, yet standard indicators such as education level, skill credentials or job experience do not fully explain job allocation processes. Simultaneously, mobility research shows that there remains a stable and unexplained link between social class origin and occupational destination. Hence, many tacit mechanism and hidden criteria are involved in the process of occupational selection.
Cultural capital constitutes a key yet elusive resource people often rely on when obtaining social positions. Acquired tastes, discourses and interactional skills are also expected to be vital assets within the labour market. However, the notion of cultural capital remains a black box as we have hardly any understanding of how it is actually deployed during practices of social selection.
This project is one of the first to open this black box by examining the role of cultural capital within hiring processes. This requires a radical turn towards investigating the praxis of social selection by focusing not only on what people say but also on what they do. Job interviews are crucial gatekeeping encounters and by in-depth examination of hiring processes, we can get new insights in how cultural capital actually obtains its value during face-to-face interaction.
To tackle this, the project has an innovative and comparative research design. The objective is to compare the importance of cultural capital within two middle-level employment sectors, including the private technical-economic field and the public social-cultural field. In order to do so the programme entails: (1) an inductive exploration of the field through focus groups with recruiters and a study of manuals and trainings for human research professionals, (2) comparative multimodal analysis of video-taped job interviews as to get detailed insight into selection practices, and (3) an examination of evaluation protocols by participant observation and in-depth interviews with recruiters.