Center for sociological research /Theory, culture and religion

Department of Sociology
Faculty of Social Sciences

We sometimes do theory with a capital T or hammer on methodological nails, but most of our studies address cultural change in fields like religion, artistic production, politics or consumption to give flesh and bones to container notions like individualization and postmodernization. Our research is theory-driven without being dogmatic. We favor a pluralist stance that looks for inspiration in classical, modern and/or postmodern theories, e.g., Durkheim on culture as a pivotal ‘pre-given’ source of morality and solidarity; Weber on rationalization, disenchantment and modernity’s cultural discontents; Bourdieu on fields, cultural distinction and the struggle for symbolic capital; Luhmann on structural differentiation and communication; Butler on the performativity of culture and knowledge; Latour on the agency of humans and non-humans; Bauman on modernity’s relentless quest for order and the liquid character of contemporary culture. Rejecting intellectual ambitions of mapping the full complexity of social reality as naïve and futile, we aim to develop, elaborate or test sociological theories. In doing so, we pragmatically select the methods that suit our research problems best, ranging from surveys and experiments to ethnography and discourse analysis.

We are looking specifically for collaboration with the research programma of Giselinde Kuipers ( who has recently started as a research professor at the KULeuven. Her research is related to the social shaping of cultural standards and its consequences, and currently she is particularly interested in beauty and inequality: the social shaping of standards related to physical appearance, and their consequences for processes of exclusion and inclusion (for instance in labor markets, dating and mating, public settings). Prof. Kuipers is a specialist in mixed-methods comparative research, and she welcomes researchers with an interest in either in substantive areas related to beauty, appearance, and inequality; or with an interesting in methodology, particularly related to mixed-methods, visual and/or comparative methods.

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