Sociology colloquia at the University of Groningen 2017.

This series contains presentations that are of general interest for sociologists
and represent various streams of research at our department (and beyond).

To make meetings open for foreign guests and students, presentations are given in English. Invitations are also send by email.

If you wish to be included in the mailing list, please contact Saskia Simon.

Standard location: B.128 (Bouman Building, Grote Rozenstraat 31)
Standard time: 15:30-16:45


Date & Place




January 12

Thijs Bol

University of Amsterdam

Occupations and Wage Inequality: A Sociological Perspective

January 19

Wendy Troop-Gordon

North Dakota State University, USA

Using Vision and Neuroscience to Understand Risk and Resilience in the Face of Bullying

March 9

Rense Corten

Utrecht University

Trust in the Sharing Economy

March 22

Martina Dieckhoff

WZB Berlin, Germany

Trends Of Unemployment Scarring Over Time

March 22

Basak Bilecen

Bielefeld University, Germany

Transnational Social Protection: A Personal Network Approach

March 22

Annemarie Walter

University of Nottingham, UK

Negative Campaigning, Political Incivility and Moral Values

March 30

Eric Widmer

University of Geneva, Switzerland

Conflict Structures in Family Networks of Older Adults and Their Relationship with Health-Related Quality of Life

April 13

Wander Jager

University College Groningen

Social Simulation and Artificial Societies

May 11

Arnout van de Rijt

Utrecht University

Cumulative Advantage

May 23

Solveig Cunningham

Emory University, USA

Going Native: Migration, Health and Integration

Tuesday June 27

Christian Berger

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Adolescent Peer Relations and Groups as Contexts for Socioemotional Development

September 28

Susanne Scheibe

University of Groningen

Emotional Aging in the Work Context

October 19

Verena Seibel

Konstanz University, Germany

To be announced

November 16

Silvia Maja Melzer

Bielefeld University, Germany

To be announced

January, 2018

Jan Willem Bolderdijk

University of Groningen

Tipping Points in Sustainable Consumption


Changes in the planning will be announced by email.

Our archive:

The colloquia in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Longitudinal data analysis workshop by Todd D. Little – May 10-12, 2010

Evolution and human development by Patricia Hawley – May 10-11, 2010

Picture of the Department of Sociology – May 2014

Thursday September 28

Susanne Scheibe (University of Groningen): Emotional Aging in the Work Context: Hidden Strength of Older Workers?

Decades of research on emotional aging have demonstrated that older adults enjoy relatively high well-being and experience advantages in several emotional competencies (such as emotion understanding and regulation) compared to young adults. Yet, despite the fact that working-age adults spend much of their time working and that pressures rise to work longer, little is known about the implications of age-related differences in emotional functioning for work outcomes. Many contemporary jobs pose high emotional demands on workers, such as the handling of emotionally charged encounters with customers, patients, clients, or students. Fulfilling emotional job demands requires good emotion understanding and effective emotion regulation to achieve organizationally desired outcomes and ward off threats to well-being. I will summarize theory and findings on emotional development across adulthood which shows that in contrast to typical decline seen in cognitive and physical domains of functioning, age-related changes in the emotional domain are mostly positive. Building on this work, I will present a series of studies with workers in the service and healthcare sectors, including studies using the experience-sampling methodology, that seek to understand the ramifications of emotional development for an aging workforce. These studies suggest that emotional changes with age can confer benefits for occupational outcomes of older employees, especially in contexts that are emotionally charged.

Susanne Scheibe is associate professor of organizational psychology at the University of Groningen. Her research focuses on the ways in which stable and dynamic aspects of emotional functioning change as people age, and how such changes affect people in work settings. Current projects focus on age differences in workplace affect and emotional reactivity to stressful work events; links between age, emotional job demands and occupational well-being; and emotion regulation as a resource for older workers’ maintenance of work motivation and performance. Originally from Germany, Susanne Scheibe studied psychology at Humboldt University Berlin and was a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Stanford University. In 2016, she was awarded a NWO VIDI grant for her research on the emotional benefits of growing older at work.

Tuesday June 27

Christian Berger (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile): Adolescent Peer Relations and Groups as Contexts for Socioemotional Development

Peer relations have been shown to be a significant context for adolescent socioemotional development. In the present talk I will discuss the shift from research centered around negative outcomes such as aggression to a more comprehensive perspective on socioemotional learning. This discussion is framed from an ecological perspective, integrating individual, interpersonal and group dimensions to better understand how individuals unfold within peer contexts. This argumentation will be supported by several studies to show how this perspective can be translated into research, using social network analysis (SNA), hierarchical modeling (HLM), structural modeling (SEM), and also qualitative methods.

Christian Berger is associate professor at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. His interests are peer relations from childhood and adolescence, and in particular how these relationships and social contexts can foster positive development and outcomes, or by contrary may favor the emergence of violence and other negative processes. Currently he is involved in several studies, including assessing homophobic bullying from an ecological framework, ethnic diversity and peer relations, and socioemotional learning and peer relations within extracurricular activities.

January, 2018

Jan Willem Bolderdijk (University of Groningen): Tipping Points in Sustainable Consumption

Many consumers wish to minimize the social and environmental harm associated with their consumption decisions. Yet sustainable innovations often fail to reach a ‘tipping point’. Why? Any innovation initially fights an upstream battle, as it defies existing customs and traditions. Based on my recent work, I propose an additional hurdle exacerbating the difficult introduction stage for sustainable innovations: early adopters may be reluctant to publically endorse sustainable innovations, knowing this can make non-adopters feel morally-inadequate. This psychological phenomenon may have society-wide implications: mainstream consumers are unlikely to adopt innovations lacking social proof, and governments are less prone to support innovations (e.g. charging stations for electric cars) lacking substantial demand. Thus, I propose that the tendency to hide one’s moral inclinations from others - a micro-level phenomenon -leads to macro-level outcomes: the lack of consumer uptake of sustainable innovations. Using combination dynamic lab experiments, analyses of real-life diffusion rates and agent-based simulations, I test this account. The results may offer support a new vision on environmental policy and marketing; the key to promoting widespread adoption of sustainable innovations may not lie in educating and motivating a broad base of consumers, but rather in ‘liberating’ early adopters to act on their already existing sustainable inclinations.

Jan Willem Bolderdijk is an assistant professor at the Marketing Department of the University of Groningen. He studies moral decision making, with a particular focus on understanding and fostering environmentally-sustainable consumer behavior. He received a VENI grant for his research on the social risks of sustainable consumption. The Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Groningen awarded him the Outstanding Junior Researcher award in 2015.

Tuesday May 23

Solveig Cunningham (Emory University, USA): Going Native: Migration, Health and Integration

Migration entails major lifestyle changes, disruption of social connections, diminished social status, and the stress of navigating new languages, bureaucracies, infrastructures, and social norms. Immigrants tend to have limited access to health care and preventative care, but they tend to be in better health compared with the people they leave behind and with native-born people in their country of reception. However, with duration of residence in the country of reception, immigrants’ health tends to deteriorate, especially with respect to obesity and diabetes. These patterns have often been interpreted as resulting from changes in behaviors and from the contexts of reception. I will show findings from parallel studies in the United States and Belgium to quantify the roles of place of origin and context of reception in obesity and diabetes, and to document in which ways health-related behaviors change after migration.

Solveig Cunningham is Associate Professor in the Department of Global Health at Emory University. She was trained in Demography and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and in International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her work focuses on the implications of social factors for chronic disease. She studies how social and family networks relate to health throughout the lifespan and how they mitigate the broader social, economic and political environments. Her research has included work in the U.S., India, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Europe and employs quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. She is currently a Fulbright Scholar in Belgium at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, conducting a study on immigrant and refugee health.

Thursday May 11

Arnout van de Rijt (Utrecht University): Cumulative Advantage

The theory of cumulative advantage is widely invoked across a broad range of domains of human achievement. The theory goes that positive feedback operating on small, arbitrary advantages an with time produce an ever widening gap between winners and losers. Cumulative advantage is of interest to sociologists as it is thought to undermine meritocracy. It would generate arbitrary differentiation between a priori equivalent actors and would allow a lucky scientist / artist or start-up company to perpetuate an initial success advantage over an initially unlucky but qualitatively superior peer. In my research I show both theoretically and empirically that the circumstances under which these self-reinforcing spirals of success-breeds-success are much more restrictive than previously thought. Using dynamic models of cumulative advantage and through field-experimental intervention I probe the conditions under which cumulative advantage occurs and distorts the meritorious allocation of resources.

Arnout van de Rijt is Professor of Sociology at Utrecht University and Stony Brook University. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Cornell University. He received the 2010 Freeman young scholar award for contributions to social network analysis. His current research focuses on cumulative advantage processes.

Thursday April 13

Wander Jager (University College Groningen): Social Simulation and Artificial Societies

Changes in society sometimes happen relatively fast, such as a rise in nationalism, the waning of smoking (in public) or our increased activity on social media. Social simulation offers a powerful tool in studying the social complex dynamics of such processes. Artificial societies allow for conducting large-scale and long-term experiments with tipping-points in social systems. Representing human behaviour in a computational simple yet meaningful way remains a challenge, because psychological theory is usually descriptive and statistical of nature. Simulation models on littering, migration & acculturation and diffusion of electric cars will be presented as examples of how psychological theory can be made computational. Finally it will be discussed how integrated models and games can be used in an educational and research context.

Wander Jager is Associate Professor and Managing Director of the Groningen Center for Social Complexity Studies. Much of his work uses social simulation as a tool to explore human-environment interactions, e.g. related to issues such as innovation diffusion, land-use, littering and migration.

Thursday March 30

Eric Widmer (University of Geneva): Conflict Structures in Family Networks of Older Adults and Their Relationship with Health-Related Quality of Life

Family members are centrally important as a primary resource of care and source of support in old age, but they are also associated with ambivalence and conflict. A large body of literature has shown that family relationships have protective effects for individuals, either directly or by decreasing individual stress, and therefore, they positively affect individuals’ psychological and physical health. Nevertheless, family support, even well-intentioned, does not always promote the well-being of older adults, as it may cause stress rather than comfort. Indeed, if family support is perceived as overly intrusive, controlling, or dominating, it can foster resentment, resistance to behavior change, and stress. Therefore, it is important to assess negative relationships in family networks for a better understanding of health-related quality of life issues. After stressing some of the theoretical issues related with conflict and family, this presentation will empirically explore the largely uncharted relationship between health-related quality of life and conflict in family networks of older adults based on a representative sample of individuals 65+.

Eric Widmer is professor at the Department of Sociology of the University of Geneva, and a member of the board of directors of NCCR LIVES. His long-term interests include intimate ties,family and other interpersonal relations, life course research and social networks. Along with others, he has been developing for two decades research on families in a configurational perspective. He is the author of various books and research papers. This presentation is based on a paper in collaboration with Myriam Girardin and Catherine Ludwig

Wednesday March 22

Martina Dieckhoff (WZB Berlin): Trends Of Unemployment Scarring Over Time

To date, we find abundant evidence that unemployment leads to reduced wages upon re-employment and also negatively affects other job quality outcomes. We still lack a systematic account of scarring trends over time, however. One central goal of our contribution is to fill this gap and investigate how scar effects in Germany have evolved over time and to unveil the institutional and macro-economic mechanisms behind observed trends. Using data from the German Socio-economic Panel 1984-2014 we estimate the effects of a recent unemployment experience on subsequent employment outcomes. In particular, we focus on the scar effects of unemployment on reemployment probabilities and (conditional on being reemployed) on subsequent wages and occupational status. The longitudinal nature of the data affords us with the possibility to examine the employment outcomes for workers who experience a spell of unemployment and compare them to those of (otherwise similar) workers who did not experience unemployment. Furthermore, we are able to test for change in compositional effects over time. Our preliminary results confirm the findings of prior work that unemployment leaves substantial scars. Scars are not only observed shortly after the unemployment spell, but also in the mid-term (4 years after the unemployment incidence) suggesting that the labor market disadvantage caused by unemployment is rather persistent. With respect to the evolution of these scar effects we show that there is no secular trend over the time period under study. However, there exists considerable temporal variation in the size of scarring effects. The specific pattern of this temporal variation can be partly brought in line with the business cycle, but parts of the observed temporal effects are also to be explained by fundamental reforms of the German unemployment benefit system.

Martina Dieckhoff is a Senior Researcher in the Research Unit “Skill Formation and Labor Markets” at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and holds a research fellowship at the SFI (The Danish National Center for Social Research) in Copenhagen. She is also currently substituting for a professor at the Institute of Sociology of the Freie Universität Berlin. She holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford. Martina’s research interests are in cross-nationally comparative labor market and life course research. Specifically, she works on the socio-demographic distribution of labor market risks, the consequences of unemployment and the determinants of and returns to continuing education and training.

Wednesday March 22

Basak Bilecen (Bielefeld University): Transnational Social Protection: A Personal Network Approach

Research on the cross-border practices underpin the spatial dimension of personal relationships highlighting that many individuals and their personal networks are not situated within one single nation-state over their life course. Having personal ties scattered across a variety of locations has implications on the resources one has. When persons migrate protective resources such as care, information exchange, and financial assistance need to be (re)negotiated within personal relationships. However, studies that examine such transnational practices within migrants’ personal networks face methodological challenges at both the data collection and the data analysis levels. For a comprehensive analysis of migrants’ life worlds, new methodological approaches to transnational practices and resource flows within personal networks are essential. Therefore, in this talk I aim to illustrate empirical ways to study social protection within and across nation-state borders by utilizing ego network analysis, participant observation, and qualitative interviews. Drawing on a mixed-methods design, I will demonstrate international migrants’ social protection patterns, their strategies, as well as their meanings.

Basak Bilecen is an assistant professor (Akademische Rätin) at Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology. Her research focuses on migration and transnational studies, social inequalities, and personal networks. Currently she is investigating Chinese and Japanese student mobility in Europe through projects called ‘Bright Futures’, and ‘Asian Educational Mobilities’ funded by German Research Council (DFG). She is the author of International Student Mobility and Transnational Friendships (Palgrave Macmillan 2014). She has co-edited special issues in international peer-reviewed journals (Population, Space and Place, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, and Social Networks).

Wednesday March 22

Annemarie Walter (University of Nottingham): Negative Campaigning, Political Incivility and Moral Values

Negative campaigning is a widely applied campaign practice and its practitioners generally believe it to be an effective campaign method. The use of negative campaigning is not without controversy as it has been associated with unintended consequences such as a decrease in political trust and voter turnout. However, contrary to popular belief there is little scientific evidence that the practice of negative campaigning is a particularly effective campaign technique and work examining its effectiveness in multiparty settings is virtually absent. In the first part of this talk I will give a short overview of my work on the effectiveness of negative campaigning in a multiparty system. The second part of this talk I will devote to work in progress. Negative campaigning contains civil and uncivil discourse, and it seems to be particular the uncivil elements that voters respond to. I will present an outline for a study on how voters’ moral values affect their emotional response to (in)civil campaign messages.

Annemarie Walter is a Nottingham Research Fellow at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. Her research interests are political behavior, electoral behavior, political psychology and political communication and party strategy. She received in 2012 her PhD in political science at the University of Amsterdam. She was awarded in 2013 a Marie-Curie Intra Fellowship Grant and in 2015 a Nottingham Research Fellowship grant for her research on the causes and consequences of negative campaigning in multiparty systems.

Thursday March 9

Rense Corten (Utrecht University): Trust in the Sharing Economy: A Research Program and First Findings

The recently booming “sharing economy” seems to have achieved something that appears unlikely according to both common intuition and sociological wisdom: to create trust between strangers. Via websites such as Airbnb, Snappcar or Peerby, participants routinely share commodities such as spare rooms, cars, tools, and even food with fellow participants, apparently without worrying about opportunistic behavior by their interaction partners. Through such exchanges, proponents of the sharing economy claim important gains in efficiency, sustainability and social cohesion as compared to the conventional economy. My recently funded Vidi project studies the social and institutional conditions under which this remarkable level of trust can emerge, alongside the further social implications of these exchanges. In particular, two claims are studied: 1) that sharing economy platforms are capable of creating trust between strangers, regardless of their respective social backgrounds, and 2) that participation in the sharing economy increases generalized trust and social cohesion, also beyond these specific exchanges. In this talk I will outline the rationale and approach of the project, and present some (first) results from a number of studies that led up to this project.

Rense Corten is assistant professor at the Department of Sociology. His research revolves around the themes of cooperation, trust, and (the dynamics of) social networks, with empirical applications including adolescent networks, social media, the sharing economy, online criminal networks, and laboratory experiments. In 2016 he received an NWO Vidi grant for a research project on the origins and consequences of trust in the sharing economy.

Thursday January 19

Wendy Troop-Gordon (North Dakota State University): Using Vision and Neuroscience to Understand Risk and Resilience in the Face of Bullying

Peer victimization, the experience of being repeatedly the target of aggression, social exclusion, and harassment, is a known risk factor for psychopathology and school maladjustment. The extent to which victimization leads to mental health, behavioral, and academic problems, however, varies across children. In this talk, I will present a series of studies examining attentional biases to social threat and protection, and neural sensitivity to stress, as transdiagnostic risk factors exacerbating the relation between peer victimization and maladjustment. Future directions for this research will also be addressed including the need to integrate the study of psychobiological, neural, and cognitive risk factors and the etiology of these risk factors in relation to peer victimization across development.

Wendy Troop-Gordon is an Associate Professor of Psychology at North Dakota State University and a faculty member in NDSU’s Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience. Her research interests lie at the intersection between children’s social cognitions, relational experiences, and psychological well-being. In her most recent research, she has been examining the processes through which early peer experiences shape development including risk for depression and aggression, as well as how social-cognitive factors and interpersonal support mitigate the risk posed by both peer stress and popularity.

Thursday January 12

Thijs Bol (University of Amsterdam): Occupations and Wage Inequality: A Sociological Perspective

Sociologists have long argued that occupations are the central unit of stratification in labor markets and “the backbone” of the social inequality system, but little research has focused on identifying why some occupations pay more than others. On the one hand, economists argue that wage differentials between occupations are fully explained by the complexity of tasks that workers perform. Sociologists, on the other hand, see occupations as more than a bundle of job tasks and focus on occupational institutions in explaining why some occupations pay more than others. Recent research for example emphasizes that occupational closure (licensure, educational credentialing) partly explains differences in mean occupational wages. Using empirical results from several countries, I will show (1) why it is important to take occupations into account if we want to understand wage inequality, and (2) how sociological theories can contribute to understanding occupational wage inequality.

Thijs Bol is Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. His research interests are in occupations, inequality, the transition from school to work, and social stratification. In 2015 he received a Veni grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research to study how occupations structure wage inequality in Europe. Recent publications include “School-to-Work Linkages in the United States, Germany, and France” (American Journal of Sociology, forthcoming) and “Occupational Closure and Wages in Norway” (Acta Sociologica).