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Sociologist Roy Kemmers: 'It is not the cultural institutions that should be protected, but the values they stand for.'

"The unease of the voters who gave Wilders 37 seats is not solved by the position of power the PVV has now achieved." Roy Kemmers (43) is an associate professor at the sociology faculty of Erasmus University in Rotterdam. On Tuesday 28 November, he wrote an opinion piece in De Volkskrant, addressing the rise of populism. He obtained his PhD on the subject last year, with research in which he mainly talked to PVV voters and people who deliberately did not vote. 

In the Volkskrant article Kemmers made it clear that populists have managed to make their narrative appealing to people with sometimes quite understandable dissatisfaction with how the press, judiciary or civil service works. "It is therefore up to those institutions to take people and their discontent seriously above all, without excluding those people."

Stigma is not justified

Reason enough for Culture Press to talk to Kemmers. Although he is not a cultural sociologist, his findings may also provide insight into how the cultural sector can play a role in bridging the gap between 'people' and 'elite'. With the threat, by Wilders in particular, that the current model of art subsidies will come to an end, this is extra topical. 

"Maybe there needs to be a bit more stretch in understanding what you consider high-quality art. The stigmatisation of other groups is not justified." 

No dropouts

"The people who choose populists now are not dropouts, but people who are doing their best to fulfil their citizenship. Just not in the way the establishment wants. But they are media-critical, interested in politics and they follow everything." 

We talk about pop culture, elite newspapers, Beyoncé, high culture. And about traditional Dutch-language folk music that reigns supreme at student parties. 

Whether requirements should be lowered for art that is so fragile it cannot possibly survive on its own? Listen to the podcast to hear what Roy Kemmers has to say about this. "It is a political and moral choice to subsidise, as a society. Society is then what society subsidises."

Listen to the podcast here.

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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