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Research Master Social Sciences

Thijs van Dooremalen: 'Driven by curiosity'

Thijs van Dooremalen graduated in Social Sciences (Research master's) in 2011

Thijs at the 9/11 Memorial in New York

Ever since I can remember I was interested in the news and wanted to keep up with what was going on in the world. I didn't have any clear idea about a career, besides maybe a vague notion of doing something in politics or journalism. So my decision to study sociology was made purely out of interest. Gradually though, I realised that I was so curious about the sociological questions that came up during my Bachelor's that the most attractive option was to stay in academia and become a researcher myself. That led me to the Research Master's, as a springboard to obtaining a position as a PhD. A position I am happy to fulfil.

Uncovering patterns

My PhD research concerns the effects of how 9/11 is construed on political thinking in the United States, France and the Netherlands. Often, we assume it's  ‘natural’ that major events trigger all sorts of changes. In the case of 9/11, for example, attitudes towards Muslims. But how natural is that really? What qualifies an event as major, and what makes it a catalyst for changes? I hope my research will provide answers to these kinds of questions,  and in that way create a clearer picture of the role that events play in societal developments. The great thing about sociological research is to uncover patterns in a jumble of stories and data – those ‘eureka’ moments, when you put two and two together and suddenly understand a little bit better how society works.

What are you passionate about?

As a student, I took the time to discover where my passions lie and how I could apply them. It may sound obvious, but it's really very important. And that's what I would advise new students, too. A job is so much more enjoyable if it's something you're passionate about. So if you have an interest in writing, try to do something with that – work on the editorial team of a student newspaper or look for a work placement in journalism. Or if you like organising, join the board of your study association and find out whether working at a ministry or a consultancy might be fun to do.