The Public and its Discontents
Peter van Dam
Eduard van de Bilt
Leonard van ‘t Hul
Marianne van Leeuwen
Jeroen van Zanten
Ingrid de Zwarte
Martijn van der Burg (Open Universiteit)
Markha Valenta (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
About The Public and its Discontents
The research group explores the crucial role of conflicts in Dutch history from a transnational perspective. We analyse the origins and expressions of popular discontent, the emotions that fuelled unrest, and the (in)ability of political and social institutions to channel, parry or suppress discontent.
Themes and scope
Scholars in the group focus on public discontent in Dutch society from 1750 to the present from different angles. Leading questions include:
- What were the consequences of public anger, resentment and distrust in the Netherlands?
- Which public emotions and manifestations accompanied these conflicts?
- Who were the winners and losers in these conflicts and in what ways?
The expertise of the group members ranges from political and social to cultural and public history, and includes such themes as the histories of corruption, (policies of) tolerance, gender, public administration, ideology, public opinion and religion.
Events and publications
The research group hosts an annual conference. This event functions as its focal point, enabling the discussing and developing of research by group members. At the annual conference, research proposals are discussed with members of the research group to generate research proposals at both at a graduate and a post-graduate level. By creating a network of post-graduate researchers and by providing a common theme, joint applications for external funding are generated.
The group also organizes events for a broader audience. These include the symposium De laakbare samenleving (Amsterdam, 17-18 May 2013) and Unheard of? Writing partisan history in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, 17 September 2014).
In 2014, the group published its first volume on the research theme: Onbehagen in de Polder. Nederland in conflict sinds 1795 (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press), edited by Peter van Dam, Jouke Turpijn and Bram Mellink.
At present, the Dutch but also many other publics are confronted with several serious social conflicts, concerning among others the status of civil liberties (e.g. freedom of expression), the place of religion in society, the future of the welfare state, and issues relating to migration. In evaluating the ensuing public debates and in formulating policy which meets the challenge of social differences, a perspective on past dealings with public discontent will be enriching. To this end, the research group also cultivates the ambition to reach out to social partners in the generating of research and finding suitable public podia to discuss issues of joint concern to many citizens.