identity as a pledge / identiteit als belofte

In November 1998, the results of the project Identiteit als probleem (identity as a problem) were published. This research was commisioned by the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, and the Convent of Christian-Social Organisations in the Netherlands, the platform where employer’s organisations, labour unions, and farmer’s organisations met on a regular basis. This platform was inspired by christian-social ideas.

The main question of this research is whether it is still possible to have social organisations such as labour-unions which base themselves on a christian identity. In The Netherlands, there have been a number of social organisations (labour-unions, organisations of employers and of farmers) which were explicitly founded by Catholics and Protestants. At present, only the Dutch Labour-union CNV is left over as an independent organisation. Is this secularization at work, or are other processes at work? After all, the christian-social movement has had a tremendous influence on (Dutch) social laws. The results of the research are available in print: Identiteit als belofte. The book confronts the ideals of the founders of the christian-social movement in the late 19th century with the position of the movement in contemporary culture. Secularisation and consumerism have not taken away the need for organisations with a specific identity — rather create new chalenges. What is more important, however, is that in a time when economic liberalism and social democracy join hands, the same bleak liberalism of the 19th century is back in power. Political debate is about State and Market; Society has disappeared from the discussion. The christian-social tradition contains the promise for a just society in which people will have identity: actually responsible person participating in society.