Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers of the Sociology Days 2019


Göran Therborn is a global social scientist, of Swedish roots. Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, UK, Affiliated Professor of Sociology at Linnaeus University, Sweden. Former co-Director of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences at Uppsala, former Professor of Sociology at Gothenburg University, Sweden, former Professor of Political Science at the Catholic University Nijmegen, Netherlands.

He has worked in and on all the populated continents of the world. His works have been published in at least twenty-four languages. He is also a civic intellectual, with a lifetime commitment to universal freedom and equality, a supporter of anti-imperialist and egalitarian social movements, as well as a writer of and on Marxist and Radical theory.

Keynote: After ”Stratification” The World of Inequality

A paradigm shift is about to occur, from ”stratification” to inequality. What was the basis of the strange stratification paradigm? The presentation will then deal with the meaning of inequality, its dimensions and its processes of (re)production. Furthermore, with reasons for the persistence of inequality, and the responsibility of sociologists.


Melinda Mills (MBE, FBA) is the Nuffield Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford and Nuffield College. She completed her Phd in Demography at the University of Groningen (Netherlands), and has further studied bioinformatics and genetics. She was the Editor of the European Sociological Review (2012-2016). Mills’ research spans a range of interdisciplinary topics at the intersection of demography, sociology, molecular genetics and statistics. Her substantive research specializes in fertility and human reproductive behaviour, assortative mating, labour market, nonstandard employment and chronotypes, life course and inequality. She currently leads the ERC funded programme SOCIOGENOME (

Mills has published various statistics textbooks in R on survival and event history analysis (2011, Sage) and has a forthcoming book on applied quantitative genetics statistical analysis (2019, MIT Press). She serves on various national science Boards such as the Executive Council of the Ecnomic and Social Research Council RCUK, the non-Executive Supervisory Board of the Dutch Science Council (NWO) and the NHS Digital Research Advisory Group.

Keynote: The sociogenomics of sexual and fertility behaviour

Within the last several years, there have been remarkable advances in data, methods and genetic discoveries related to sexual and fertility behaviour. This keynote provides a brief introduction and overview of these findings and then relates them to potential extensions for sociologists studying fertility and beyond. The talk also reflects on the broader applicability of current genetic findings across populations, time and space. It concludes with some critical reflections on the application and interpretation of genetic data (particularly polygenic scores) for individual prediction of social and behavioural traits and policy formation.


Giselinde Kuipers is a Professor of Cultural sociology at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. She received her PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 2001. Since then, she has worked at the University of Amsterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and again at the University of Amsterdam. She has been a visiting scholar at many places around the world, including the University of Pennsylvania, University of Navarra, University of Bologna, University of Milan, The Netherlands Institute in Turkey Singapore Management University, and Sciences-Po Toulouse. She is the founder of the Cultural Sociology Program group at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research of the University of Amsterdam. From 2015 until 2018, she was Chair of the Sociology Department of the University of Amsterdam.

Giselinde Kuipers has published widely in English and Dutch in the fields of cultural sociology, the sociology of beauty, humor, media, cultural globalization and transnational culture. She is the author of Good Humor, Bad Taste: A Sociology of the Joke (2006, 2nd revised edition 2015) as well as many articles in journals such as the American Sociological Review, Poetics, Cultural Sociology, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Ethnic and Racial Studies an American Behavioral Scientist. Her work was translated into various languages. She received funding from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences, and the European Research Council. In 2009, she received an ERC Starting Grant to study the social shaping of beauty standards in 6 European countries. Currently, she is preparing a book based on this project. Moreover, she has started a collaboration with scholars from Baptists University of Hong to study beauty standards in an Asian context.

Keynote: Beauty and inequality

Being beautiful has always paid off. Many studies in economics, psychology and – to a lesser extent – sociology have shown that physical appearance produces advantage and disadvantage in relationships, health, wealth, job opportunities, and social life. However, although it is well-established that beauty brings social advantage, scholars disagree how beauty produces inequalities. Most psychological and economic studies tend to assume societal or even more or less universal consensus on beauty standards – an assumption that is problematic from the perspective of cultural, historical or critical approaches to beauty.

In this lecture, I will discuss three distinct mechanisms by which beauty standards produce societal dis/advantage and hence: inequalities. First, beauty serve as aesthetic capital in particular when there is considerable agreement on what is beautiful.  Second, when there is variation in beauty standards, such standards serve as cultural capital. Third, all evaluations of beauty reproduce classification into unequal categories such as gender, age or race. I will illustrate these three mechanisms drawing on my own research findings from five European countries as well as studies done by others. I will argue that all three mechanisms lead to the drawing of symbolic boundaries (Lamont 1992; 2000) on the basis of beauty and beauty standards, but in distinct ways. When beauty functions as aesthetic capital, this is mostly likely to lead to direct exclusion. When beauty standards function as cultural capital, this is most likely to lead to social sorting. Finally, the classification into unequal categories leads to the creation and persistence of unequal societal classification systems.


Minna van Gerven is Assistant Professor in Sociology of Governance at the Department of Public Administration, University of Twente, the Netherlands. Prior to joining University of Twente, Minna was Post Doc researcher at the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS), University of Amsterdam. She holds a PhD from the Tilburg University in The Netherlands, and an MSc from University of Tampere, Finland. Minna van Gerven is a leading scholar on EU and Global governance and social policy, currently focusing on questions like ‘under what conditions policy innovations diffuse’ and ‘what is the role of social policy in the emerging technological change’. She has recently hold numerous visiting appointments in China, ranging from Renmin University of China, Beijing; Fudan University Shanghai to University of Science and Technology China in Hefei.

Her recent publications include ‘Efficiency or compensation? The global economic crisis and the development of the European Union’s social policy’, Global Social Policy. 2018 (with Imke Lammer and Oliver Treib); ‘Youth Policy Innovation Diffusion in the Netherlands: The Realization of Centers for Youth and Families by Municipalities’, International Public Management Journal, 2018 (with Wouter Jans, Ariana Need an Bas Denters); and ‘Teaching the Dragon? The Diffusion of European Union’s Social and Employment Policies to China’, In Mok (Ed.), Managing International Connectivity, Diversity of Learning and Changing Labour Markets (Spinger), 2017 (with Weiquo Yang).

Keynote: Digital inequality: bridging the digital divide?

In the context of the 4th industrial revolution, the digitalization, artificial intelligence, new technologies like robotics and Internet of Things, are expected to merge the psychical, digital and biological worlds and influence all areas of life (Schwab 2016). The technological change will greatly affect our lives and choices that we make, and if used wisely, new technologies open new horizons to meet existing social risks such as those connected to education, integration or even in area of human care in a more effective way. Yet, technological change may also strengthen old conflicts, such as conflict between labour and capital, as well as it can lead to new social problems and strengthening old persistent problems such as social inequalities. In this key note lecture, I will discuss the technological change as modernization process that (may) foster inequalities. I draw attention to the digital divide, a driving force behind the growth of both visible and invisible inequalities. I will conclude by arguing that technological change affects not only agencies but also existing structures like welfare states, which need to be adjusted to address technology-driven risks.

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