Willem de Koster (1984) is Associate Professor of Cultural Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
While his PhD thesis (2010) addressed virtual communities, most of Willem’s past and current research focuses on the genesis, backgrounds and consequences of cultural conflict and discontents, taking the importance of cultural framing into account. Methodologically, his research ranges from in-depth qualitative case studies to analyses of large-scale internationally comparative survey data and survey experiments. Substantively, his current research consists of three branches.
The first one focuses on value polarization in western countries, scrutinizing for instance public conflicts on issues of migration and integration, social order, crime and punishment, gender, and sexuality. Questions of interest are: how did opinions on these issues change over the years, which groups are pitted against each other, and what are the causes and consequences of these social conflicts, for instance when it comes to societal discontents and voting behavior?
The second branch of Willem’s current research concentrates on the way in which characteristics of cities and neighborhoods impact citizens’ fear, discontents, health, value orientations and voting behavior. In exploring these issues, he pays ample attention to the way in which contextual and individual-level factors interact in producing various outcomes.
Willem’s third branch of research focuses on information provision and cultural frames. Research inspired by the highly influential ‘information deficit model’ suggests that people’s opinions on new technologies, policies, and institutions are hardly or not affected by the provision of new information. However, Willem’s research, which builds on insights from cultural sociology and communication science, evidences that information provision actually has strong effects, but that these depend on people’s cultural frames, which influence the way in which information is processed. Willem analyzes how such cultural predispositions shape the way in which new information underlies a change in attitudes and behaviors, addressing a wide range of issues, from food and water intake to public opinion on suspended sentences.
Willem’s research has been enabled by a Conflict & Security grant and a personal VENI grant, both awarded by The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), an EUR Fellowship and several personal research incentives awarded by the Executive Board of Erasmus University Rotterdam, and smaller funds provided by the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) and the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP).
In addition to his research activities, Willem teaches various courses, among others in Erasmus University's Master specialization Politics & Society and the top-rated Research Master in Sociology of Culture, Media and the Arts. Willem also serves on the editorial boards of two peer-reviewed journals: Sociologie and Sociologos.
Visit Willem’s Google Scholar page or his personal website www.willemdekoster.nl for more information.