Resilient Identities

This expertiselab focuses on the following subjects:

  1. Authorative alliances
  2. Buro Zend-Uit. Online talent-management research.

1. Authorative alliances

‘They are taking over our country’; ‘My friends are becoming westernized ’ ‘My son doesn’t want to consort with non-believers’; ‘I only trust genuine Dutchmen’; It’s time for a new dictatorship’.

Mentioned above are a series of random remarks that can be frequently heard in Dutch society. These remarks however hurt the feelings of a part of the population and they create polarization. What can be done to prevent this? The expertise lab ‘Resilient Identities’ is trying to find long term strategies to help young people develop in such a way that they can escape from the socio-cultural margins of society. How will institutions be able to exert moral influence on young people so that they will be able to offer alternatives to extremist propaganda? How can we ensure that young people become more resilient and resist alienation from politics and democracy? What partnerships can be made to create moral authority without resorting to the threat of violence?
This Expertise Lab explores the goals, possibilities and limitations of the so called ‘authoritative alliances’, in which adults defend society as it is while simultaneously appealing to the imagination of our nations' youth. The main reason behind the study is to find the agents and processes that contribute to building resilient identities. We will also explore what policies are needed to facilitate cooperation between schools, youth organizations and religious institutions to generate resilient political and social identification and participation processes. That way, we will gain important insights into what happens when, at the start of a possible radicalization or alienation process, we start a personal dialogue instead of ending one. 

“In the context of exposure to significant adversity, resilience is: both the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to the psychological, social, cultural, and physical resources that sustain their well-being, and their capacity individually and collectively to negotiate for these resources to be provided in culturally meaningful ways.”(Ungar, 2008, 2011)

The study will be divided into four projects that focus on the micro, meso, macro and meta dimensions of these questions. In this way, we hope to gain insights into what type of resilience is required in a polarizing society, what professional structure is needed, which relations and rules in daily practice will contribute to resilience and what the consequences are for the relation between daily practice, academic theory and policy making. Elements of socializing practices will be studied as part of ‘participative action research’. This will enable us to collect data with actors in the field. Preliminary results that will become available on a mid-to-long term basis can be shared to help find a solution for urgent policy problems.

  • What discourse on resilient identity building applies to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE) in the Netherlands and elsewhere?
  • Which socio-pedagogical elements are most effective when it comes to promoting resilient identity building? 
  • How will the formation of authoritative alliances (positively) influence the development of resilience of young people against polarization and violent radicalization?
  • Within the authoritative alliances, which elements and processes that appeal to young people, will help to create a morally authoritative nurturing context that enables them to develop a resilient identity which in turn will prevent polarization and violent radicalization?
  • How will policy makers and security professionals perceive the establishment of authoritative alliances?
  • What opportunities arise in both social and security domains to strengthen one another?
  • What social evidence will the study provide? What policy measures are required to support the formation of authoritative alliances? 
During this study researchers will work closely with policy makers, youth workers and young people themselves. Youth workers have access to a group of young people who would normally be harder to reach or to stay in contact with. This group also includes those who are (in danger of) radicalizing. The youth workers have the know-how and expertise to intervene on the level of young people themselves and can therefore bridge the academic world and daily life. The participating young people will be invited to contribute as full-fledged co-researchers into their own situation and to share their experiences with other partners in this action research. 

Programme leader Dr. Stijn Sieckelinck studied social and philosophical pedagogics at KU Leuven. His main focus is the pedagogical study of radicalization. Stijn Sieckelinck advises governments domestically and internationally. He is also a board member of the ‘Quality Board of the EU Radicalization Awareness Network ‘(RAN). During the second half of 2017 he was also a visiting professor at McGill University of Montreal (Canada).