Evelien Tonkens, sociologist, is full professor of Citizenship and Humanization of the Public Sector at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, The Netherlands since 2014. Since 2019, she is also Academic director of the Graduate School of the UHS and Director of Research of the UHS.

Between 2005 and 2014, she was professor of Active Citizenship at the University of Amsterdam. From 2002 to 2005, she was a Member of the Dutch Parliament for the Green Left. She holds a PhD in social sciences from Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on changing ideals and practices of citizenship against the background of and developments in welfare state reform, democracy, meritocracy and globalization.

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Scientific publications in English

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Current research projects (in English)

Partcipating in the international H2020 research project Solidarity in diversity

The rise of national populism and far-right parties in Europe poses a big threat to all forms of solidarity, especially solidarity between members of various ethnic-cultural groups. European democracies should therefore identify the conditions that can encourage and promote solidarity in diversity, taking into account the social inequalities and unequal positions of power between various groups. The EU-funded SOLiDi project has developed a training and research programme to train 15 early-stage researchers in relevant theories, research methods and ethics from a variety of disciplines. The training and research programme will also focus on paradigms of social change, studying how scientific insights on solidarity in diversity can be applied in different policy contexts and organisations. Ultimately, the project will provide professionals and institutions with insights and instruments for building cohesive European societies.

Spokesperson: Stijn Oosterlynck, Universiteit Antwerpen


Key publications

9781137534095The Culturalization of Citizenship. Belonging and Polarization in a Globalizing World
Jan Willem Duyvendak, Peter Geschiere, Evelien Tonkens (Eds.) (2016)

The notion of citizenship has gradually evolved from being simply a legal status or practice to a deep sentiment. Belonging, or feeling at home, has become a requirement. This groundbreaking book analyzes how ‘feeling rules’ are developed and applied to migrants, who are increasingly expected to express feelings of attachment, belonging, connectedness and loyalty to their new country. More than this, however, it demonstrates how this culturalization of citizenship is a global trend with local variations, which develop in relation to each other. The authors pay particular attention to the intersection between sexuality, race and ethnicity, spurred on by their awareness of the dialectical construction of homosexuality, held up as representative of liberal Western values by both those in the West and by African leaders, who use such claims as proof that homosexuality is un-African.

Crafting Citizenship. Negotiating Tensions in Modern Society
Menno Hurenkamp, Evelien Tonkens en Jan Willem Duyvendak (2012)

According to politics and the media, immigration and individualization are driving citizens apart but in neighbourhoods social life is often thriving, depending on the talents of particular citizens or the inventiveness of local institutions. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative research among hundreds of active and less active citizens, and an analysis of a vast array of newspaper articles, this book explores the crafting of citizenship, examining new forms of active citizenship and the actual conditions that hinder social cohesion.




Participation, responsibility and choice: summoning the active citizen in western European welfare states
Janet Newman and Evelien Tonkens (eds.) (2011)

New formations of citizenship occupy a central place in the modernization of welfare states across Europe and beyond. A range of governmental and political projects swirl around the remaking of citizenship: the restoration of national identity, the responses to the challenges of social cohesion in a globalising world and the attempt to reinvent relationships between people and the state. But at the centre of these struggles are notions of the ‘active’ citizen: one who is no longer dependent on the welfare state and who is willing to take a full part in the remaking of modern societies. The active citizen is invited, cajoled and sometimes coerced to take on a range of responsibilities for the self, for the care of others and for the well-being of communities. S/he is offered a range of opportunities for self-development and paid employment in order to contribute to national projects of survival and success in a globalising world. While there is now an extensive body of work on the encouragement of citizens to be active in the labour market, the focus of the book is on three related but distinct dimensions of activation that focus respectively on

choice in the marketplace of welfare services;
– extended responsibility for individuals, carers, families and communities; and
participation in service delivery, policymaking and governance.

These three comprise a new policy focus on ‘active citizenship’in many nations – a focus that transforms older meanings of citizenship and that seeks to incorporate (or at least rework) older struggles.