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Reading: Een wankel vertoog. Over ontzuiling als karikatuur


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Een wankel vertoog. Over ontzuiling als karikatuur


Peter van Dam


A Shaky Exposition: On De-pillarisation as a Caricature
Dutch twentieth-century history is regularly constructed on the basis of the antithesis of verzuiling (pillarisation) and ontzuiling (de-pillarisation). The popular discourse of de-pillarisation suggests the dismissal, around the 1960s, of three societal characteristics: segregated religious and ideological communities (pillars); the societal dominance of such communities; and pacifying cooperation among social elites. De-pillarisation thus connects to the discourses of individualisation, secularisation and politicisation. Conversely, this article proposes seeing a shift in the way citizens have organised themselves – a shift from heavy to light communities – as the essential transformation in Dutch post-war history. From this perspective, the discourse of discontinuity is replaced by a panorama of gradual change. Individuals became more independent and organised themselves more loosely; religious traditions were only admitted to public life as long as they proved to be bonding elements; and politicians legitimized their policies by means of a dialogue among experts whilst, by and large, maintaining their pacifying style.

Keywords: Pillarizations
How to Cite: Dam, P. van ., 2011. Een wankel vertoog. Over ontzuiling als karikatuur. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 126(3), pp.52–77. DOI:
Published on 01 Jan 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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