Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

Abram de Swaan presents his use of the work of Sigmund Freud

AISSR Great Thinkers Seminar Series

20Nov2018 15:00 - 16:30


Lecture by Abram de Swaan in the series 'Great Thinkers', titled: The uses of Freud for social science, a personal account.

Anthropologists and sociologists usually quote Sigmund Freud’s works on culture, religion and art, Civilization and its discontents being the most important among them. 

But Freud was, of course, also a practician who applied his own invention, ’the talking cure’: psychoanalytic therapy. And he was one of the great connaisseurs of the human psyche.

These more mundane and clinical aspects of Freud’s work even today have great practical implications for social science. Most useful for empirical work are his central concepts of ’transference’ and ‘countertransference’, as well as ‘repression’ and ‘defense’. All these notions have been transformed since Freud first proposed and applied them. In this presentation, De Swaan will discuss how some kindred authors used Freud’s ideas and methods and how De Swaan went about it in his own work (especially on genocidal  perpetrators). Most relevant for the present purpose are Freud’s technical writings (Technische Schrifte) and Lectures (Vorlesungen).

Abram de Swaan

About Abram de Swaan

Abram de Swaan is a sociologist and emeritus professor from the University of Amsterdam. He received the P.C. Hooft Award in 2008. De Swaan was also one of the co-founders of the AISSR. See also his personal website. 

About the Great Thinkers Seminar Series

AISSR members present the work of a great thinker in the field of social sciences immersing us in key features of the social science canon and ‘Great Thinkers’ and exploring contributions across disciplinary lines. Staff members, PhD students and others interested can attend the public lecture. For AISSR PhD students the lecture can be followed by a PhD seminar with a second discussion of key readings of the respective thinker. How can you use these readings in your own research project? 


All are welcome. Registration via:

PhD Seminar

This lecture is followed by a PhD seminar on the 27th of November 11.00-13.00. For more information, please contact Alix Nieuwenhuis

Location: CREA, Theatre Hall

  • Roeterseilandcampus - building I (CREA)

    Nieuwe Achtergracht 168-178 | 1018 WV Amsterdam

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Published by  AISSR