Dean's Master Class: research theme 'Sex'June 3, 2016


Event information

  • Type: Master Class

  • Date: June 3 (Friday) 2016

  • Time: 12.15 - 17.00
    (walk-in lunch 12.15 - 12.45; drinks afterwards)

  • Location: Rotterdam, Erasmus University College (directions) Lecture Hall B

Enrolment: exclusively for members of the Graduate School (deadline for enrolment, May 27, 2016)

Contact: 

Telephone: +31 (0)10 40 82607


The upcoming edition of the Dean's Master Class will focus on the research theme 'Sex'. Graduate School Dean Professor Liesbet van Zoonen has again chosen a theme which cuts across disciplines and asked four distinguished EUR scholars, from three academic fields, to present their research on the theme. Those four disciplines are: Development Studies, Sociology, and Media and Communication.

The master class is a highly interactive event, consisting of a combination of presentations, discussions and assignments. During the afternoon, PhD candidates will work in groups towards presenting a draft research proposal on 'Sex'. The best proposal will be awarded 'The Dame'; the Dean’s Award for Multidisciplinary Excellence.

Read the retrospective of the first master class for an impression of the afternoon’s set-up.

The Dean’s Award for Multidisciplinary Excellence was awarded to Balázs Boross (Arts and Culture Studies), Brett Ory (Sociology) and Ewald de Bruijn (Public Administration).


Speakers Dean's Master Class on 'Sex'


Karen Gabriel is Associate Professor and head of the English Department at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. She is also Founder-Director of the Center for Gender, Culture and Social Processes at St. Stephen’s College, a teaching and research hub. Currently, she is active at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) as a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow (IIF). She is working on a comparative study of the pornographic industries in India and the Netherlands.

Title presentation: "Sex, sexuality and the sexual Economy"
This presentation will attempt to delineate the scope of the terms ‘sex’ and ‘sexuality’ under discussion. It will do this by outlining briefly, even indicatively, the concept of the 'sexual economy'. It will show that the analytic of the sexual economy enables us to track the (sometimes unexpected) relations – manifest or oblique – between sex, sexuality and sexual practices and other domains of human activity, whether social, economic, political, representational or technological. It will illustrate this using disparate instances that will include discourses of nation-state and nationalism, sex work (and the porn industry in particular) and representational strategies. The presentation will therefore bring out the intersectional and intersectoral character of sex and sexuality and the gendered and sexualized character of their intersectional and intersectoral domains.

Required reading: Kim, Hyun Sook, Jyoti Puri & H. J. Kim-Puri (2015) "Conceptualizing Gender-Sexuality-State-Nation: An Introduction" In Gender and Society, 19.2, Gender-Sexuality-State-Nation: Transnational Feminist Analysis: 137-159.
Available online


Ruut Veenhoven is emeritus professor of 'social conditions for human happiness' at Erasmus University Rotterdam and professor by special appointment at North-West University in South Africa. He studied sociology and is also accredited in social psychology and social-sexuology. Veenhoven's current research is on subjective quality of life. Major publications are: 'Conditions of happiness' (1984), 'Happiness in nations' (1993), 'The four qualities of life' (2000) and 'Greater happiness for a greater number: Is that possible and desirable?' (2010). Veenhoven also published on abortion, love, marriage and parenthood.

Title presentation: "The sexual revolution"
In Western civilization, sex was long associated with secret and sin, but in the 1960s the ‘sexual revolution’ took place. We now know more about sex, accept sex more and have more sex. In retrospect this raises three questions: 1) Why was sexuality repressed in the past? 2) Why the sudden liberation in the 1960s? and 3) Did the sexual liberation improve the quality of life?

Required reading: Veenhoven, R. (2005) In S.W. Couwenberg (red.) In Seksuele revolutie ter discussie. Van Phil Bloom tot Sex and the City, Budel: Damon, 93-105.
Dutch text available online (English translation will be forwarded upon registration)


Peter Nikken is Professor of Parental Mediation in the Department of Media and Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research interests are on the intermediate role of parents and professional educators for children’s media use.

Peter Nikken has published widely both popular and academic reports on children, young people and media in the Netherlands and abroad. In addition, he has also given many presentations on children and media regarding media violence, advertising, children's TV broadcasting policy, and sex in the media. He is an academic consultant for several organisations, including Kijkwijzer and PEGI (the age-rating classification systems for media productions), Kennisnet/Mijn Kind Online, and the Dutch Media Authority (CvdM).

Title presentation: "Effects of sex in the media on children and adolescents"
We are living in a highly media-saturated environment. Therefore, children and young people are easily confronted with all kinds of media content, including topics as violence, substance use, and also sexuality. What do we know about the effects of sex in the media? Do media affect adolescents’ sexual behavior, attitudes and knowledge? And how can parents, teachers, health care professionals, and media producers benefit from communication research?

Required reading: Strasburger, V.C. (2012) "Adolescents, Sex, & the Media" In Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews 23.1: 15-33.
Available online


Samira van Bohemen is a cultural sociologist at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her PhD thesis focused on play and identity performance (gender and age) at the Red Hat Society. As of September 2015 she works on a research project about youth, ethnicity and sexuality. The project is provocatively called ‘Good Sex’ because it aims to move away from the focus on ‘risk’ in studies about youth and sexuality. The project will take three years and is funded by the Dutch Fund for Sexuality Research (FWOS).

Title presentation: "Beyond dangerous sex: How Dutch ethnic youth perceive and practice 'good' sex"
Contemporary debates about youth and sexuality have the tendency to focus on risk behavior and ‘dangerous’ sexual encounters. Both inside and outside of academia there have been many ‘sex panics’ that particularly problematize the sexuality of youth with – so-called – 'ethnic backgrounds'. In a new research project, called Good Sex: How Young People Perceive and Practice Good Sex we aim to move beyond such a problematic notion of ethnicity, and its usage as an explanation for risky sexual behaviour. We do this by examining how youth themselves define, perform, and negotiate 'good' – as opposed to 'bad' – sex (both in its moral and pleasurable meanings).

Required reading: Farrer, J. (1999). "Disco 'Super-Culture': Consuming Foreign Sex in the Chinese Disco." Sexualities 2.2: 147-166.
Available online