Jan Rath is currently serving as full Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, with a focus on the cities and their ethnic and cultural diversity. Rath studies migrants’ integration in the urban environment, with a specific interest in the political and economic dimensions of this process. His research revolves around migrants’ entrepreneurial activities and their embeddedness in, and impact on, sectors and neighborhoods from a comparative perspective. More recently, Rath has concentrated on the development of small businesses that initially and primarily focus on members of the new middle class. “Rath is a successful and productive researcher, who emphatically lays connections between academic research and issues in our society,” says Prof. Romke van der Veen (EUR), who presides over the Council responsible for the Van Doorn Chair. “As such, his work aligns very well with Van Doorn’s professional approach and method of working.”
At NIAS-KNAW, Rath will be researching the interrelationship of amenities, cultural consumption and urban identity. Particularly in the case of gentrifying neighbourhoods, the arrival of trendy new consumer hotspots – coffeehouses, craft breweries, yoga studios and the like – can give impetus to what is often called the ‘urban commons’. They have a strong impact on citizens’ identity, lifestyle and social integration – particularly within the younger middle class. But at the same time, they raise questions about social cohesion in these bakfietsbuurten [‘cargo bike neighbourhoods’, named after a form of transport popular with the middle class]. There’s a risk that the proliferation of such amenities, a development that is enthusiastically encouraged by municipal administrators and housing corporations, will further erode existing ties within the community and affect equal opportunity and citizens’ entitlement to the urban environment. These issues are also reflected to an extent in Van Doorn’s own research on neighbourhoods. As early as 1955, he wrote that excessive investment (political and otherwise) in local communities and identities – which at the time was considered self-evident – was misguided and one-sided, for the simple reason that connections and identities don’t necessarily have to be rooted in spatial conditions. Whether an alternative perspective on our neighbourhoods would lead to fundamental improvements needs to be examined in further detail.
At ESSB, Rath will be giving several master classes and seminars, as well as working together with doctoral students at the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities.
About Jan Rath
Prof. Jan Rath is Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, with a focus on the cities and their ethnic and cultural diversity. In addition, he is a member of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), within which he mainly works in the Center for Urban Studies (CUS) and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES). Rath is also a Research Fellow of the Migration Research Center (MiReKoc) of Koç University, Istanbul. Together with colleagues from the latter institution, he serves as managing editor of the interdisciplinary journal International Migration.
In addition, Rath serves as Chair of International Metropolis, a global organisation established to build closer ties between researchers, administrators and policymakers working in the field of immigration and integration. Over the years, he has advised numerous local, national and supranational government bodies, agencies and NGOs, including the European Commission (notably the DG Enterprise and Industry), OECD, OSCE and the United Nations (notably IOM, UNHCR, UNCTAD and the Population Division). Finally, Rath is associated with the World Economic Forum and is a member of the Supervisory Board of JINC, a civil society organisation that works, with the support of the private sector, to help young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods find employment.
About the Van Doorn Chair and Fellowship
The Prof. Dr. J.A.A. van Doorn Chair was set up in tribute to Professor Jacques van Doorn, the founder of the department of Sociology in Rotterdam in 1963 and the first dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSW). The alternating chair comes out of a partnership between EUR and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS-KNAW), which aims to underline the public importance of sociology through its participation. The researcher appointed to the Chair will also hold a Van Doorn Fellowship at NIAS-KNAW. Both the chair and the fellowship are intended to encourage research into the relationship between social processes on the one hand and policy and administration on the other. The Chair has previously been occupied by Prof. Mark Bovens LLM, Prof. Kees Schuyt LLM, Prof. Evelyn Ruppert and Prof. Bea Cantillon. The Council of the Van Doorn Chair, which is presided over by Prof. Romke van der Veen, bears responsibility for these appointments.