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Introduction Adults and Children in a Polarising World



Polarisation, stigmatisation and exclusion 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 study and understand the effect of this imaging? 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 knowledge and insights for the study of diversity and polarisation. 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 diversity and polarisation

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

  • be able to take and defend your position in current scientific debates on polarisation

  • 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 three interactive meetings and one meeting for final presentations.
Before the first meeting, you will read relevant literature and listen to inspiring perspectives on diversity and polarisation. In the first meeting, you will be challenged to critically examine these perspectives. You will form a group of 3 to 5 students to conduct your research. In the second meeting, the instructor will present a case study from his own research and a number of controversial statements as a source of inspiration for you to tackle your own case study. In the third meeting, you will discuss issues of representation: how can you secure a both academically and ethically sound representation of your research findings?
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. You will present your findings in an academic blog series or an academic mini movie.
In the final meeting, you will present your blog series or your movie to your instructor and the second-year students of the Science & Society track.

Literature List

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 Blackboard)

This literature must be read before the first meeting. Take a document to the first meeting in which you answer the following questions:

1) What three new insights did you gain from the literature?
2) Which three topics do you wish to explore further after reading the literature?
3) Please formulate a provocative academic and/or societal statement inspired by/based on the literature.





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 Room
16-10-2019 19:00-21:30 P. de la Courtgebouw 5A47
30-10-2019 19:00-21:30 P. de la Courtgebouw 5A47
13-11-2019 19:00-21:30 P. de la Courtgebouw 5A47
29-11-2019 15:15-17:00 P. de la Courtgebouw 5A47


Registration via uSis, activity code 12325.

Contact information

If you have any questions, please contact your coach, Nienke van der Heide or Dorothée Out.