nl en

Dignity versus the People? The Dutch Establishment and its challenger since the 19th century


Admission requirements

Reading and listening skills in Dutch are required.


Dutch society has always had a quiet reputation. Nevertheless there have been periods of extreme disagreement with heated debates (1) at the end of the 19th century, (2) in the 1930s, (3) in the 1960s, and most recently (4) in 2002 and afterwards. In the name of ‘the people’ or a popular ‘democracy’ outsiders such as orthodox protestants and socialists round 1900, fascists in the 1930s, ‘provos’ in the 1960s and populists after 2001 challenged the world of established politics, which they accused of arrogance and conceitedness. In defence of the ‘dignity’ of politics and culture, the insiders accused the newcomers of irrespectable and irresponsible behaviour and language.
In this course we will study the debates between outsiders and insiders in each of the four periods: debates in parliament, in the press, in public meetings etc. In this way, we will get a clear picture of the nature of debate in Dutch society and politics over a long period of time, and we will discuss the nature of democracy in the Netherlands from the 19th century onwards, with special attention to the contemporary period. Depending on the students, we will study parliamentary but possibly also religious disputes, debates in societies, pressure groups, political parties and even in the public square. After a general introduction students will be invited to select and study a specific case (which they may or may not suggest themselves). In previous years international cooperation resulted in visits to the University of Antwerp (2007 and 2008), the University of Münster (2009), and to Dutch parliament. We will look for an opportunity to continue the cooperation.


See course-schedule

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Tutorial

  • Independent study of academic literature

  • Possibly study visit

Assessment method

Oral presentations, written paper


Reading list

  • Peter Bootsma & Carla Hoetink, Over lijken. Ontoelaatbaar taalgebruik in de Tweede Kamer (Amsterdam Boom 2006)

  • Henk te Velde, ‘Populisme’ and ‘Tweede Kamer’ in Id., Van regentenmentaliteit tot populisme. Politieke tradities in Nederland (Amsterdam Bert Bakker 2010)

  • Koen Vossen, ‘Hoe populistisch zijn Geert Wilders en Rita Verdonk?’, Res Publica (2009) 437-465

  • Piet de Rooy, Republiek van rivaliteiten. Nederland sinds 1813 (Amsterdam Mets & Schilt 2002)


See enrolment-procedure

Contact information

Prof.dr H. te Velde