Erasmus University’s cultural sociologist dr. Willem de Koster has been awarded an 800 thousand euro Vidi grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). De Koster will analyse why politically opposed citizens often voice identical stances on the European Union, the welfare state, and development aid.
How is it possible that radically different social groups hold identical political stances? De Koster’s idea is that they interpret the same issue differently. Opposition to the EU, for example, most likely differs in meaning for citizens at the left and right ends of the political spectrum. To analyse this, it is crucial to focus on the perspectives of citizens themselves. Initially, De Koster will do so by carefully listening to citizens’ political discussions in focus groups. Subsequently, he will incorporate these insights into large-scale surveys, which will be analysed by means of a new statistical method. Finally, De Koster will use experiments to assess whether groups that have different interpretations of an issue such as the EU, respond differently to information campaigns by governments or NGOs.
Willem de Koster: ‘This grant provides me with a unique opportunity to form a research group at the intersection of cultural sociology and political science. I am deeply convinced that such an interdisciplinary approach is needed to properly understand heated societal conflicts. That does not only provide insights for public debates, but also informs policy and communication strategies.’
The Vidi project is part of De Koster’s research programme, in which he uses cultural-sociological insights and methods to address a wide range of issues. In addition to political attitudes, policy preferences, voting behaviour and institutional trust, De Koster analyses health inequalities.
NWO VIDI grant
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded this year 16 innovative social scientists a Vidi grant (out of 144). Each scientist receives a maximum amount of 800,000 euros. NWO selects the Vidi laureates on the basis of the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge utilisation. The researchers are free to choose their own research subject.
About Willem de Koster
Cultural sociologist Willem de Koster obtained his PhD degree at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2010. He is Associate Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology and a member of the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities. Previously, he obtained an EUR Fellowship, as well as grants provided by NWO (Conflict & Security and Veni) and the Erasmus Initiative “Smarter Choices for Better Health”. Applying a cultural-sociological perspective, he addresses puzzles in various disciplines, ranging from political science to epidemiology. In addition to his scientific articles, among others in Political Geography, West European Politics, Public Understanding of Science and International Journal of Public Health, he publishes for wider audiences in various outlets. Furthermore, is co-founder of the international Master Politics & Society.