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Dr. Melissa Sebrechts

Melissa Sebrechts

Universitair Docent




Leerstoel Burgerschap en Humanisering van de Publieke Sector


Melissa Sebrechts is an anthropologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Humanistic Studies. In her research, she focuses on the impacts of welfare programmes and precarious employment on people’s moral emotions and sense of self. Her work is characterized by in-depth ethnographic fieldwork, put at the service of theoretical debates like social justice and recognition.


Melissa is currently involved in two research projects: one project focuses on the relationship between welfare officials and welfare recipients. The other project focuses on the transition of people with disabilities from sheltered workshops to paid work.


Sebrechts, M. (2023). Towards an empirically robust theory of stigma resistance in the 'new' sociology of stigma: Everyday resistance in sheltered workshops. The Sociological Review. (accepted for publication).

Schmidt, J., Van der Weele, S., & Sebrechts, M. (2023). In praise of awkwardness in the field: Increasing our understanding of relational concepts by reflecting on researchers’ emotion work. Qualitative Research, 14687941231186024.

Sebrechts, M., & Tonkens, E. (2022). Putting participation into practice: An ethnographic study of sheltered workshops in the Netherlands and Portugal. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities

Sebrechts, M., & Kampen, T. (2021). Divide and Conquer: Social Assistance Clients’ Competing Frames of Social Justice. Work, Employment and

Alaszewski, A., Sebrechts, M. & Alaszewski, H. (2021) ‘They won’t let me go cycling by myself’: the challenges of risk taking. In H. Atherton (Ed.) Learning Disabilities: Towards Inclusion, 7th edition (pp. 97-112). London: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Sebrechts, M., Kampen, T., Knijn, T., & Tonkens, E. (2021). Meer kans in en uit de bijstand. Tijdschrift voor arbeidsvraagstukken37(3).

Kampen, T., Sebrechts, M., Knijn, T. & Tonkens, E. (2020) (Eds.) Streng maar onrechtvaardig: de bijstand gewogen. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Van Gennep.

Sebrechts, M., Tonkens, E., & Da Roit, B. (2019) Unfolding recognition: an empirical-theoretical contribution to the concept. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 20(2), 173- 189.

Sebrechts, M., Tonkens, E., & Bröer, C. (2018) Rituals of recognition: interactions and interaction rules in sheltered workshops in the Netherlands. European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, 5(4), 455- 475.

Sebrechts, M. (2018) When doing your best is not good enough: shaping recognition in sheltered workshops. Doctoral dissertation. University of Amsterdam.

overzicht van publicaties (research portal


Social justice, recognition, welfare, mild intellectual disabilities


Melissa teaches the second year Master's course 'Pursuing Social Justice'. In this course, social justice is approached through the concepts of redistribution, recognition and representation. Students learn to understand and apply these concepts to various urgent contemporary problems such as migration, climate change, precarity and more.