The future of European labour markets

Workers face significant challenges in contemporary labour markets. Working lives have become increasingly flexible and uncertain. Flexibility, increased forms of non-standard and part-time hours, the prevalence of temporary work, changing locations of work blur the boundaries between work and life outside of work. Simultaneously, expectations outside of work remain or have become intensified. For example, care responsibilities are growing in their complexity due to social and demographic changes. In this context, what does the future of labour look like?

Mara Yerkes starts from a normative philosophical framework developed by Indian economist and philosopher Amyrta Sen – the capabilities approach – which is often used to evaluate social science phenomena such as gender inequality, work-family balance, life-long learning, occupational disability and young people’s transitions from school to work. This approach will be presented briefly to start an interactive discussion on what the applicability of a capabilities framework means for understanding the future of labour.

What does this mean for Europe? Is there even such a thing as a European labour market? Ronald Dekker will argue that according to principles of subsidiarity labour market regulation is taking place at the national level and EU coordination in this respect has not led to convergence of labour market outcomes or any real integration of labour markets. He claims that we should analyse the future of European labour markets separately, recognizing for instance, that the labour market in Denmark is completely distinct from the labour market in Spain and will remain so for a long time. The real question, according to Dekker is: which policies and institutions will improve labour market outcomes?


  • Ronald Dekker is assistant professor of labour economics at Reflect, Tilburg University. His research interests include labour market dynamics and flexibility, employment security, inclusive labour markets and robotization.
  • Mara Yerkes is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Social Science at Utrecht University and honorary research fellow at the Institute for Social Science Research, the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Her research interests include work, care and family, gender, comparative welfare states, industrial relations, social inequality and women’s employment.

Date and time: 20th of April at 19.00h

Location: Universiteit voor Humanistiek, Kromme Nieuwegracht 29, Utrecht. Room 0.38.


Technology and its blind spot in political thinking

Since a few years, the term ‘technocracy’ has made a comeback in political discourse, indicating the current economic order as an outcome of severely ideologically steered choices, instead of  being the result of necessity, objectivity and pragmatism – the garments in which spokesmen of this order like to present it.

All the while, another society-shaping force seems to be commonly taken for granted as a result of pragmatism and necessity: new technology. Political views criticizing neoliberal policies usually suffer no less from naive instrumental views on technology as right-wing parties do. The rise of robotics taking jobs, for example, is passively met by left political parties with proposals for accommodative policies, instead of proposing different scenarios.
In a contribution to DIEM25 our speakers will dig up a  truism within the academic field of Science and Technology Studies (STS): that technology has politics too. In other arenas however, the political character of technology is persistently denied. However, technologies entangle and entrap us, and in this manner they are far from being simple means to an end. Technology can fundamentally change who we are in ways that no politician would be able to.


– (dr. ir.) Martijntje Smits is an engineer and a philosopher of technology. She wrote a PhD on  Taming Monsters – the cultural domestication of technology. She works as a researcher and lecturer  for several universities and she is dedicated to the aim of enlarging  the political imagination of new technologies like robotics and smart grids.
(Dr.) Maikel Kuijpers holds a PhD from Cambridge university and is currently a lecturer in European Prehistory at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University. His main research topics are technology, craftsmanship, and skill which he explores both in archaeology as well as contemporary society

Date and time: 30th of March 2017 at 19.30h

Location: University of Amsterdam. Roeterseiland building B/C. Room B.5.12 (5th floor): Common Room Anthropology department.

A heart for Europe

Author: Dick Pels*

Combating Violence and Fear

If there is any such thing as European civilization, how can we define it, become more proud of it and defend it more convincingly in the current multiple crisis? It is plain for all to see that the European project is now sailing in bad weather, being threatened both by outside forces and from within. Hence perhaps we should ask in a more desperate tone: what is left of European civilization, and how can we salvage what is left? Continue reading “A heart for Europe”

Citizen University: Politics of fear

In the US presidential election campaign and in political discourse across Europe we are seeing a sharp increase in the use of fear as a political weapon. While this has to some degree always been present in politics, it has acquired new force since 9/11, and is now an established tactic of the populist right, who play upon electorates’ concerns about terrorism and immigration by encouraging xenophobia and Islamophobia.
How can progressives most effectively counter this trend? What lessons can history teach us about the dangers of ‘phobiarchy’ and its links to populist dictatorship? Are these forces more powerful in an age of ‘identity politics’? 

Continue reading “Citizen University: Politics of fear”

Why a citizen university?

By Susan Curvers

“Equality is not given, nor is it claimed; it is practiced, it is verified” – Jacques Rancière

Educating citizens has been an intrinsic part of democratic societies since the first use of democratic principles in ancient Greece. Ever since that time, there has been an understanding that a healthy democracy is dependent to a large extend on the virtue of its citizens. However, every idea of the ‘good’ citizen is tied to a notion of the ‘good’ society, making it an essentially contested concept. ‘Citizenship is a ‘contested’ concept in the sense that the criteria governing its proper use are constantly challenged and disputed; such disputes are ‘essential’ in the sense that arguments about these criteria turn on fundamental political issues for which a final rational solution is not available’ [1]. Some would add that it’s the very point of essentially contested concepts that their meaning remains object of discussion. The DiEM25 Citizen University strives to be space in which matters of citizenship can openly be discussed and citizen identities formulated and reformulated on the basis of equality. Continue reading “Why a citizen university?”