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Adults and Children in a Polarising World


This information is subject to changes.

Entry Requirements

This course is meant for second year students of the Honours College FSW programme, Science & Society track.


Polarisation, stigmatisation and exclusion are urgent social themes, which are based on a way of seeing each other. Some ways of seeing approach the other as an object, whereas other ways allow space for the other to be or become more of a human person. Our understanding of what it means to be part of our society is based on an image of who ‘we’ are, and what a good life comprises. While this image allows us to live and act together, it simultaneously excludes other ways of living and other understandings of what makes a good life.

How can we understand and study the effect of this societal imaging on interpersonal relations? How can issues of diversity have such an influence on persons’ self-understanding and on interpersonal relations? What are the effects of polarisation, and how can negative effects be mitigated? And how can we prevent research to fall victim to the same effects?

The main goal of this introductory course is to provide students with fundamental experience-based knowledge and theoretical insights for the study of diversity and polarisation. The course will allow students to explore their personal gaze in relation to stigmatised groups. Students will be challenged to develop experience-based learning skills and make appropriate use of literature. With this knowledge, students will be able to study more specific issues regarding diversity and polarisation in courses they elect to follow later in the Honours programme. Another goal is to provide students with knowledge and insights with which they will be able to understand and analyse contemporary (political) discussions on diversity and polarisation.

Learning objectives

After completing this course, you will:

  • be familiar with a broad range of insights on polarisation, stigmatisation and their influence on interpersonal relations

  • be familiar with current debates on mitigating effects of polarisation in contemporary society

  • be able to combine experience-based and theoretical learning approaches in a scientifically grounded way

  • be able to take your position in current scientific debates on polarisation, while being accountable to your social background

  • be able to describe the position of a specific group in society in relation to issues of diversity and polarisation

Mode of instruction

The course consists of five interactive meetings and one meeting for final presentations. In the course you will combine theoretical and empirical ways of learning.
Before the first meeting, you will read relevant introductory literature containing inspiring perspectives on and polarisation. In the first meeting, you will be challenged to critically examine these perspectives. You will form a group of four students.
In between the meetings, you will conduct a very short field research of a controversial topic within the field of diversity and polarisation among a societal group of your own choosing. Based on an interview with someone from this group you will investigate the effects of polarisation in practice.
In the meetings you will 1) be guided through this investigation, 2) learn theoretical insights on the topic. You will present your findings in an academic blog series or an academic mini movie. In the meetings you will discuss issues of representation: how can you secure a both academically and ethically sound representation of your research findings?
In the final meeting, you will present your blog series or your movie to your instructor.

The course will give room to and require your personal involvement, allowing you to explore your personal motivation for doing socially engaged research.

Preliminary Literature List

On the cultural and historical nature of seeing
Sigurdson, Ola, “Heavenly Bodies: Incarnation, the Gaze, and Embodiment in Christian Theology”, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016, pp 151-181

On the image(s) of the Netherlands “Thinking of the Netherlands.” Den Haag: Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau, 2019.

On society and social subgroups
Schinkel, Willem. “The Moralisation of Citizenship in Dutch Integration Discourse.” Amsterdam Law Forum 1, no. 1 (2008): 15–26.

On the influence of the gaze on self-image
Winnicott, Donald W. “Mirror Role of Mother and Family in Child Development.” In Playing and Reality, 130–39. New York: Basic Books, 1971.

On the risks of dominant views in research methodology
Denzin, Norman K., and Michael D. Giardina, eds. “Introduction.” In Global Dimensions of Qualitative Inquiry. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 2013. pp 9-18.

On a work / learning approach that recognizes the presuppositions in our gaze
Valve, Katri. “A Perspective on the Exposure Approach to Pedagogy in Community Development Work.” In Community of the Future : Challenges and New Approaches to Community Based Social Work and Diaconia from the CABLE Approach, edited by Joukko Porkka and Marja Pentakäinen, 168–91. Helsinki: Diakonia-ammattikorkeakoulu, 2012. (Not paragraph ‘Development of the Pedagogical Method’, pp 171-177)

An example of reflection on case studies, in particular on the topic of reciprocity
Schlatmann, Titus, and Rob Van Waarde. That’s the Name of the Game: On Empowerment and Community, an Account of Practical Research. 2 (English Translation). Ootmarsum: Van der Ros Communicatie, 2014: Introduction, Chapters 1 and 5. (on Brightspace)





Number of participants

Maximum: 50 participants


You will receive qualitative feedback on your blog series or movie. Assessment of your participation in the categories insufficient, good or excellent will be based on commitment, courage and academic rigour.


Date Time Location
6-10-2020 18:00-20:00 online
13-10-2020 18:00-20:00 online
27-10-2020 18:00-20:00 online
10-11-2020 18:00-20:00 online
24-11-2020 18:00-20:00 online
8-12-2020 18:00-20:00 online


Registration via uSis, activity code 15304.

Contact information

If you have any questions, please contact Honours College FSW