In Memoriam prof.dr. Anton Zijderveld

Zijderveld studied theology at the University of Utrecht and then sociology in Utrecht and the United States. In 1966 he obtained his doctorate in sociology at the University of Leiden and subsequently taught in New York (1966-1968), Montreal (1968-1971) and Tilburg (1971-1985); and finally at Erasmus University Rotterdam (1985-2002). He was a visiting professor in Montreal (1977-1978), Osaka (1988) and Munich (1988-89) and obtained his doctorate for the second time in 2006, now in philosophy of law, with a dissertation on Heinrich Rickert.

During his time at Erasmus University, Zijderveld focused mainly on cultural sociology.In fact, he was one of the founders of cultural sociology, “says sociology professor Romke van der Veen: Zijderveld was one of the iconic thinkers in sociology in the 1960s and 1990s, who mainly emphasized the symbolic and cultural perspective in sociology. “Or as his successor professor of general sociology Godfried Engbersen points out:” Siderveld’s work has “had great significance for the development of Dutch sociology. He introduced symbolic interactionism and shaped cultural sociology in the Netherlands.”

Zijderveld has played an important role in putting Rotterdam sociology on the map, where he ”With his book Society as a spectacle many students enthusiastically ”, said Professor and Vice Dean of Education Bram Steijn. He was very aware of cultural sociology, institutions and institutionalization, a common thread throughout his work. He wrote a number of prominent and influential books such as The institutional imperative, The abstract society, a theory of Urbanity and In the praise of doubt (with Peter Berger) alongside current essays on populism, humor and clichés. Zijderveld’s leitmotif was the tension in modern society that Weber had already identified between ‘value-rationality’ and ‘purpose-rationality’: rationality based on principles and values ​​versus rationality based on calculation and instrumentality. He applied it creatively to the function of the welfare state and the cities, but also very subtly to the role and functions of the clichés. “, said Professor Jack Burgers.

He was also a public intellectual who managed to apply his cultural-sociological perspective as a columnist for the television programs Buitenhof (1998-2002) and Het Financieele Dagblad (1990-2012) in countless areas, including art, politics, religion, welfare state, bureaucracy , The Beauty of the Tie and the Fred Haché Show by Wim T. Schippers. In addition, he had a sharp and malevolent gaze for the sociology of folly (through a book), and also for the folly of sociology. Through his social commitment and public sociological contribution, he added the word ‘staccato culture’ as well as ‘hyphens Dutch’ as ​​well as the concept of ‘civil society’ to the Dutch language. He’s in it has been a source of inspiration and pioneering for generations to come ‘, says public sociologist Mark van Ostaijen.

In 2004, he was named a Knight of the Dutch Order of the Lion, partly because of his social merits. For although Zijderveld considered himself a post-Calvinist, non-religious and agnostic, he committed himself to the scientific institute of the CDA, for which he was an important adviser (1988-2009). In addition to social administrative work for, among others, the Rotterdam Special Needs Fund, the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, the Rotterdam Art Foundation, the Peter Schat Foundation and the Red Ears Festival, he was dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences (1994-1998). His term of office was marked by establishing new partnerships with other faculties and universities and giving the social faculty and sociology education a ‘own face’, where both policy analysis and metropolitan existence became important new pillars.

With the loss of Anton Zijderveld as one of the most influential, leading and internationally recognized post-war Dutch-speaking sociologists, Erasmus University has lost one of its (sociological) founders, a prominent public intellectual and also an extremely learned and engaging personality.

Our condolences to his family and friends with this great loss,

Victor Bekkers, Dean of the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Arwin van Buuren, Director of the Department of Public Administration and Sociology

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