Publications of ISR research projects

Within the Institute for Societal Resilience (ISR) researchers conduct multi-disciplinary research on complex societal issues. The resulting projects and publications, placed in the spotlight below, reflect the wide variety of topics that our scientists are working on at the ISR, either with the theme(s) or in the expert lab(s).  

If you require more information regarding the scientists employed by the faculty of Social Sciences, or if you would like a list with their most recent publications, both can be found in the new Research Portal of the VU. If you have a specific question and/or need to contact an expert, please get in touch with our Communication department

In the spotlight

In the report ‘Civic Integration as a Key Pillar in Societal Resilience for Newcomers’, Nikki Scholten maps the current state of the Dutch integration processes and also analyses academic research into alternative integration strategies. The report indicates that little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of civic integration policies. The few reports that are available, show that current integration policies have counterproductive outcomes: they have led to long waiting lists, unclear demands for newcomers and insignificant results. Alternatively, civic integration policies should give room to the personal circumstances, needs and ambitions of individual newcomers. 

This report was financed by the Institute for Societal Resilience, was commissioned by Foundation Civic and has been conducted by Nikki Scholten in cooperation with Sennay Ghebreab and Tamar de Waal. Foundation Civic aims to inform policy makers in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe on proven and successful integration strategies. Therefore, Nikki Scholten presents a series of recommendations in this report. 

Full report

The Stichting Maatschappij en Veiligheid (SMV) has asked the Vrije Universiteit to look into the work experience of firefighting volunteers (FFV) in the context of a changing organization and society, as a result of worrisome signals the SMV received from within the FFV organization. For this study, six students conducted interviews with 56 individuals, mainly firefighting volunteers, in six different fire stations. The end result is the report ‘Een solide basis. De praktijk en werkbeleving van brandweervrijwilligers in Nederland’, by Ronald van Steden, Mauro Boelens, Anthonie Drenth and Leonore van den Ende.

Many young people in the Netherlands have next of kin who require permanent care, like a parent, sibling or even a friend. Some young people perform these informal caregiving duties while pursuing a degree. Little is known about these young people who have to combine their education with caregiving duties for a parent or sibling, about who they are and which consequences this double burden has on them. The factsheet “Gezondheid- en studieuitkomsten bij mantelzorgende studenten that came out recently, focuses on this demographic and provides insight into the possible consequences this has for their health as well as their education. This study is a collaboration between the Vrije Universiteit, the Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau (SCP) and the student-doctors of the University of Amsterdam. This study is conducted as part of the Startimpuls JOIN grant (Jongeren in een veerkrachtige samenleving. Naar nieuwe arrangementen voor inclusiviteit en participatie).

If you have questions and/or would like to receive more information regarding the factsheet, please contact  Ingrid van Tienen or Alice de Boer.

Een functioneel onveiligheidsgevoel (over waakzaamheid en routinevoorzorg onder GVB-reizigers en handvatten ter verbetering) is an advisory study commissioned by the Gemeentelijk Vervoersbedrijf (GVB) and conducted by security expert Remco Spithoven, with participation of researchers Sarah Ebrahem and Niels Kok.

The feeling of being secure plays an important role in the overall appreciation commuters have for the GVB. The GVB strives for an optimum level of security and is willing to assign staff and invest considerable means to realize that goal. In this in-depth study we have looked at what influences the GVB commuters’ sense of (in)security and what possibilities the GVB has to improve this sense of security.
Psychological and behavioural processes regarding the sense of (in)security are addressed through a literature study and by conducting interviews. Statistics show that the sense of (in)security of the GVB commuters stems primarily from risk assessments and feeling of being at risk. These sentiments correspond with what is known as a ‘functional sense of insecurity’: a functional concern that is caused by a potential criminal threat that evokes a feeling of alertness and precaution. The study also shows that the GVB commuters’ sense of (in)security is by no means a dysfunctional fear that negatively influences their quality of life.

Together with these findings, the researchers presented a series of recommendations, one of which is to ensure the presence of readily identifiable GVB staff during hours and on locations where this was indicated.

The report Wie zorgt voor degenen die zorgen? Naar een betere mantelzorgondersteuning came out in March 2018 and was published as the conclusion of a pilot study on informal caregivers. Social scientists Bianca Suanet, Marieke van Wieringen, Alice de Boer, Bianca Beersma and Olivier Taverne contributed to this report.

The aim of the pilot study is to gain a preliminary insight into how informal caregivers perceive the current level of the informal caregiving support system and how they would like it to be organized instead. Additionally, the report focuses on healthcare organizations and their staff and on how they deal with resilience in relation to the informal caregiving support system. To approach this subject from several different perspectives, interviews were conducted with informal caregivers, care professionals and management of healthcare organizations.  

The creation of a participatiesamenleving, a society in which everyone plays their part, will lead to an increasingly pivotal role for informal caregivers in the healthcare process. As a result, more attention will need to be paid to the informal caregivers support system. Currently, healthcare organizations are still primarily focused on caretakers. Reports published in 2016 showed that one out of every ten informal Dutch caregivers was overworked. The report also states that in the near future this percentage will rise significantly when the participatiesamenleving becomes more commonplace. However, an alternative outcome could be that the support system will be organized in such a way that it will not lead to significant additional responsibilities for the informal caregivers. This would greatly improve the resilience of the informal caregivers and society on the whole.
The outcomes of the pilot study lead to four main conclusions. The first is that informal caregivers often have trouble indicating what it is they themselves need. This question should be asked more explicitly and discussed during the support process. Secondly, informal caregivers indicate that more often than not their wishes, opinions and interests are not considered in the care process: care professionals and managers predominantly focus on the caretaker. The informal caregivers often feel conflicted in indicating that the duties of informal caregiving weigh heavily on them and that additional caregiving support is actually required. The third conclusion is that informal caregivers see the informal caregiver support system and the regular care given by care professionals to caretakers as one and the same process, while the care professionals primarily see these as two separate processes. Finally, there seems to be some friction between care professionals and the perceived responsibility they feel for offering informal care giving support (is this an additional task or is it an integral part of their duties?) versus the limited possibilities they have to effectively offer the right level of informal care giving support.
The results of the pilot study underline that it is of the utmost importance to take into account the the wishes, opinions and interests of informal caregivers in the shaping of informal care-giving policy and the healthcare processes as a whole. Based on our findings, the report therefore also presents a series of practical recommendations.  
Kleurrijke zorg, een verkennende literatuurstudie naar culturele en seksuele diversiteit in de langdurige ouderenzorg is a new literature study with contributions by researchers Hannah Leyerzapf, Silvia Klokgieters, Marjolein Broese van Groenou and Halleh Ghorashi.

The current heterogeneous and ageing population asks for new approaches in dealing with diversity in long-term elderly care. This literature study focuses on the one hand on cultural diversity, specifically on elderly migrants with a Turkish or Moroccan background. On the other hand, the study also looks at the sexual diversity of LHBT-older people (e.g. Lesbian, Homosexual, Bisexual or Transgender) who are a relatively invisible group when it comes to long-term elderly care.
The report gives a state-of-the-art overview of the conducted research, policy and protocols regarding cultural and sexual diversity in long-term care. Data will be discussed from the perspective of the caretaker as well as the perspective of the healthcare organizations. One of the core conclusions is that elderly migrants do not use the care that they are entitled to based on the state of their health. Elderly LHBT people fear that they will not be acknowledged by the healthcare organizations. Care professionals, on the other hand, have a growing need for information, so that they can strike the right balance between supply and demand and so that they can develop specific (staff) policies for their target groups.

This study emphasizes the importance of a shared collective responsibility through which care professionals, key functionaries and clients together will further shape diversity-sensitive policy, come up with a protocol of do’s and don’ts to help develop and implement this policy and will formulate follow-up questions for research and daily practice.
PRECARIAT is a research project studying labour market deregulation in Europe, focusing empirically on one of its most extreme cases: Greece.

With PRECARIAT, we aim to develop a broader definition of employment protection and aim to overcome the limitations that are imposed by most of the official measurements in order to evaluate the social effects of labour market restructuring policies.

Therefore, we aim to provide a novel series of qualitatively and quantitatively comprehensive indicators that take into account all the important social components of flexible labour markets.

The material is based on more than 100 interviews that were conducted in big urban centres and smaller peripheral cities in Greece regarding the transformations of labour market during the crisis.

The PRECARIAT website features forthcoming publications and additional information.