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Social Sciences for Society

Faculty of Social Sciences

Social Sciences at the VU: understand the questions of today, contribute to the world of tomorrow.

The world is becoming more dynamic, diverse and international. This asks for highly educated people who can fathom today’s and tomorrow’s difficult problems from different perspectives and who have the skills to come up with surprising solutions. Social Sciences at VU Amsterdam educates you to be a critical thinker and practitioner.   

With us, you will receive a thorough education in one of the social sciences and at the same time, you will learn to look at big current social issues from different angles. There are no ready-made solutions for these so-called ‘wicked problems’. For example look at issues such as how to deal with illegal immigrants, privacy in a digital world and the question of whether there are boundaries to freedom of speech. These problems are so complex that you need several social sciences to understand them. At the VU you will learn to combine the disciplines in the second year in themes where these actual issues are discussed. You will learn to ask new questions, think of surprising solutions and make well-considered decisions. In short, you will learn by thinking and not settling for easy answers. 

How do apparently everyday things qualify as tradition?

In the last years, Dutch culture has become more popular. More attention is paid to tradition, architecture, design, heritage, faith and norms and values. This raises questions about the role of culture and associated rituals to investigate. Irene Stengs is endowed professor Anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and a researcher at the Meertens Instituut (KNAW). Her research mostly focuses on Dutch pop culture and Dutch heritage.

Social functioning of the elderly

Theo van Tilburg is professor of Sociology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His research focuses on the social functioning of the elderly, incorporating criteria such as family, social network, support and informal support and care. It is often assumed that as you get older, your social network shrinks. This effect would be reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research by Theo van Tilburg shows that the opposite is true.

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