Meet OPG members: Ruben Ros

We would like to introduce you to the members of our School and show the diversity of the themes that are studied within it. Every month, the mini-interview gives you a glimpse into one research project. This edition: PhD candidate Ruben Ros (Leiden University).

What is your research project about? 
‘My research project is about technocratic ways of thinking in parliament. Technocracy is the idea that politics or administration is best left to those with skill or knowledge (“techne”). In my research, I study how variations of this idea reflect in twentieth-century debates in the Dutch Lower House. Most studies into technocracy target expert institutions like scientific councils or central banks. They often lead to the conclusion that parliament is waning or eroding under the pressure of technocracy. I am interested how this actually plays out in parliament itself. Was there a long-term process of technocratization? How did politicians think about and leverage the argument that expertise trumps politics? And how has technocratic reasoning affected parliamentary debate?’

Would you describe your project as political history? Why (not)?
‘I would definitely describe my project as political history. It deals with parliament, one of the traditional objects of study in political history. The project also studies the most political of political acts: saying that something has nothing to do with politics.’

What do you like most about your project? 
‘What I like most about my project is its interdisciplinary nature. I’m an avid disciple of computational methods and the Digital Humanities (although people usually run away when hearing the latter term). This is still quite new in political history, so I have the opportunity to think anew about the history of political debate and employ methods from other disciplines to answer complex questions. The object of political history is often quite messy, and it is fascinating to try to grasp for example the intricate dynamics of parliamentary debate through quantitative analysis.’