First edition Dean's Master Class: research theme 'Families'June 13, 2014


In this session of the Dean’s Master Class, we looked at research about families from four disciplinary angles: Sociology, History, Philosophy and Development Studies. 

Four leading scholars from the EUR presented their research about families and discuss the particular approach of their discipline with the students.

Read this short retrospective on our website for a look back on the first session of the Dean's Master Class.

The Dean’s Award for Multidisciplinary Excellence was awarded to Thijs van den Broek (Sociology), Simone Driessen (Media and Communication) Joyce Neys (Media and Communication) and Wouter Quite (Sociology).


Presentation details Dean's Master Class on 'Families'


Generational interdependence in families

By: Prof. dr. Pearl Dykstra - Sociology

Recognizing that in ageing societies many parents are also children, even grandchildren, in a multi-generational structure, I adopt generational interdependence in families as unifying theme. That way I can connect two theoretical strands from the life course literature: the notions of “linked lives” and “lives in context”.

Generational interdependence emphasizes the dynamic interplay between being embedded in a meso context of interconnected family ties and living in a macro context of policy arrangements. I will show that taking a multigenerational view of families leads to new research questions, and provide examples of the ways in which the macro context shapes generational interdependence in families.


Life courses in context during the last two centuries

By: Prof. dr. Kees Mandemakers - History

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries Dutch society changed enormously. National integration of infrastructure as well as industrialization, combined with growing educational chances, changed society in important ways: social and geographical mobility increased, living standards and public health improved, fertility and mortality declined and families became smaller.

"Life courses in context" starts from the point of view of the individual and tries to explain the outcomes of life from the individual and societal context in which persons were born and in which they lived during their lives (short or long).


The policing of families

By: Dr. Gijs van Oenen - Philosophy

Ever since Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the family has been the object of social probation and political strategy. While on the one hand being the 'negative' of society, a 'haven in a heartless world', the family is simultaneously the instigator and transmitter of social norms and values.

Where society has become ever more demanding, in terms of skills, competences and productivity, the family has to present itself as both a refuge from this mounting pressure, and as a willing 'co-producer' of this new kind of citizen. The notion of the 'participatory society' as it is now being circulated in political discourse is only the latest incarnation of this long line of forms of 'biopolitics'.


The impact of economic policies on the family

By: Dr. Rachel Kurian - Development Studies

Mainstream economic theories and policy interventions assume the household/family to be a (non-conflictual) unit of consumption. I will discuss the implications of such a perspective for unpaid work, done largely by women in the household and the consequences it holds in the context of gender power relations and competing claims.

I will also consider how current market-oriented reforms, through focusing on paid production pass on the 'shocks of adjustment' on to the household household/family. A question for consideration is how these experiences differ in the industrialised and developing countries.