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This lecture takes Dutch cycling culture as a paradigmatic example of non-state-led national similarity.

Detail Summary
Date 14 May 2019
Time 18:00 - 19:30
Whos in Town Giselinde Kuiper

In the Netherlands, cycling is a taken-for-granted mode of transportation, ingrained in the everyday routines of the vast majority of the country’s inhabitants, from the royal family to recent immigrants.

Starting from Norbert Elias’ concept of ‘national habitus’ I propose a processual approach to the formation of national similarity, identifying four processes that have contributed to increasing similarity within nations: growing interdependence within nations; increasing density of networks and institutions; vertical diffusion of styles and standards; and the development of national "we" feelings. These processes reached their apex in the second half of the 20th century.

However, I argue that these processes have diminished since the 1960s, leading to increasing variations within countries and growing similarities between comparable groups in different countries. Both the rise and decline of national habitus are illustrated by changes in Dutch cycling culture. With the decline of national habitus, we see a growing rift between ‘locals’ and (bike-loving) ‘cosmopolitans’. 


Giselinde Kuipers is professor of cultural sociology at the University of Amsterdam. She is the author of Good Humor, Bad Taste: A Sociology of the Joke (2006/2015) as well as numerous articles on popular culture, cultural globalization, social theory, media, beauty, humour and other cultural forms. As of October 2019, she will be working at the University of Leuven, Belgium.

Location: Room 1.01A&B
Amsterdam University College
Science Park 113, 1098XG Amsterdam
Convenor:  Dr. Maxim Kupovykh