After receiving my bachelor degree in sociology at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam I switched sides and decided to get my master degree in Cultural Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. Here I graduated on how robbers use their bodily postures and weapons to attain emotional dominance in robberies. Together with my supervisors we published this work in a special issue of the Journal of Research of Crime and Delinquency. The new situational approach of violence caught my interest, because now, unexpectedly, my personal fascination with fighting and my academic career in sociology came together.
While writing my master thesis, I became a research-assistant at the Netherlands Institute for the Research of Crime and Delinquency (NSCR) and later as an assistant in the Group Violence Research Programme, collecting and coding video footage and developing codebooks for the analysis of violent situations (see the video analysis project). Before my current position as a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) and the department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, I taught freshman courses and qualitative methods at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Being part of the GroupViolence team enables me to further contribute to the sociology of violence and qualitative methodologies. Finally, through my research on violence in groups of youth, I also aim to contribute to society, by generating knowledge that may help to de-escalate violent situations and/or to reduce their harmful consequences.
Violent behavior of young adults is often linked to socio-economic factors, psychological characteristics or ethnic background. However, these analyses cannot explain why so many youngsters with the same a priori characteristics do not show violent behavior. The aim of this research project is to gain insight into how violence works in groups of delinquent young adults and to uncover what enables or disables violent behavior of these young men and women.
To find answers to these questions I will study the relationship between violence and young adults from three perspectives. First, I will map how they emotionally experience antagonistic situations. Are there feelings of tension, fear, anger, excitement or emotional dominance during these situations, and if so, how does this influence their actions and those of others. Second, I will study how they maintain and strengthen their sense of moral community, what role masculine identity, place, group dynamics and shared memories of previous violent situations play in this process, and how this sense of moral community influences future violent interactions. Ethnographic methods and interviews enable the study of these aspects, and contrary to former ethnographic research on violent young adults in The Netherlands I will study groups from a rural town and a big city and involvew both men and women. By looking for particularities and similarities between these places and groups I will shed light on the workings of violence in young adults.