Research School for Economic and Social History

Research Network ‘Inclusion, Exclusion, and Mobility’

The Flemish-Dutch research network on ‘Inclusion, Exclusion, and Mobility’ is a  network for scholars working on the broad field of social history from the late medieval period to the present. It also welcomes PhD-researchers who work on stand-alone projects that relate to social history.

Research directors

Dr Bart Lambert (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Dr Marion Pluskota (Leiden University)


Researchers in the Inclusion, Exclusion and Mobility network are interested in how past communities functioned, looking at both the forces that kept people and social groups together and at what drove them apart. Research topics include the study of social relations, group formation, and social conflicts, in both urban and rural settings.

Focus points

  1. The inclusion and exclusion of social groups due to factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, or class. Processes of inclusion and exclusion are quintessential to examine the ways communities functioned and are strongly linked to the balance of power within communities. As such, research on the role of intersectionality in community forming and the tools used to define these communities is an important component of this network. We want to explicitly look at the vulnerable and less powerful groups within these communities and at how their position, level of agency, and capacity to navigate historical changes can be defined.
  2. The effects of mobility and immobility. Migration – internal, seasonal, emigration, immigration, asylum, forced movement, return – was an integral part of late medieval, early modern and modern societies, impacting significantly upon the ways in which they functioned. But, mobility does not solely relate to the geographical movement of people. Our researchers also work on processes of social mobility and immobility, studying to what extent the position of groups and individuals within societies changed over time.
  3. The role of institutions within societies. We are particularly interested in the impact of institutions on processes of inclusion and exclusion and on geographical and social mobility within communities. Several of our researchers focus on the rise of ‘civil society’ or, in other words, the institutions that do not belong to the market or state, but are formed by citizens, such as guilds, churches, voluntary associations, charitable bodies, NGOs, etc.


Other activities

  • Accommodating researchers in the Netherlands and Flanders working on these topics and facilitating their work
  • Encouraging collaboration between scholars from different universities in the two countries, including scholars in other Posthumus research networks, most notably from the research network ‘Life-courses, Family, and Labour’.
  • Organising conference sessions, workshops and masterclasses
  • Providing financial and logistical support to PhD researchers, postdoctoral fellows, and senior researchers who want to organise scientific meetings related to the interests of this network.
  • Facilitating publication of its members’ work, for example through guest editorships or special issues in both international and Dutch-Flemish academic journals, such as The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History.