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Dr Gerbrand Tholen

Lecturer in Sociology

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology

Contact Information


Visit Gerbrand Tholen

D606, Rhind Building


Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



Gerbrand Tholen is a lecturer in Sociology. His research interests are centred around education, skills, jobs, occupations and the labour market. He has previously examined issues of skill utilisation, graduate work, elite education, labour market mobility, income inequality, skill formation and the global labour market as well as social theory.

From 2012-2015 he was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Education, University of Oxford in which he conducted a study on the UK graduate labour market. This study aimed to create a better understanding of the post-recession British labour market for graduate workers, providing in-depth qualitative case studies on the work of software developers, financial analysts, laboratory scientists and press officers.


  1. PhD in Sociology, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
  2. MSc in Social Science Research Methods, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
  3. MA in Philosophy, University of Groningen, Netherlands
  4. MSc in Sociology, University of Groningen, Netherlands
  5. BSc in Sociology, University of Groningen, Netherlands
  6. BA in Philosophy, University of Groningen, Netherlands


  1. Lecturer in Sociology, City, University of London, 2015 – present
  2. British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE) Department of Education, Oxford University, 2012 – 2015
  3. Research Officer, Centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE) Department of Education, Oxford University, 2011 – 2012
  4. Research Associate, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, 2010 – 2011


Research interests

The graduate labour market
Recruitment and selection
Higher Education
Unemployment scarring
Social closure
Occupations and professions
Occupational change
Social stratification
Educational inequalities


Books (2)

  1. Tholen, G. (2014). The Changing Nature of the Graduate Labour Market Media, Policy and Political Discourses in the UK. Palgrave Pivot. ISBN 978-1-137-47906-8.
  2. Tholen, Skills, Credentials and Jobs in the Graduate Labour Market. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chapters (3)

  1. Tholen, (2017). Higher Education and the Myths of Graduate Employability. In Waller, R., Ingram, N. and Ward, M.R.M. (Eds.), Higher Education and Social Inequalities Getting In, Getting on and Getting Out London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-21288-6.
  2. Brown, P., Lauder, H., Ashton, D. and Tholen, G. (2006). Towards a High-Skilled, Low-Waged Economy? A Review of Global Trends in Education, Employment and the Labour Market. In Porter, S. and Cambell, M. (Eds.), Skills and Economic Performance (pp. 55–90). London: Caspian Publishing.
  3. Lauder, H., Brown, P. and Tholen, G. The Global Auction Method, Skill Bias Theory and Graduate Incomes. Reflections on Methodology. In Lauder, H., Young, M., Daniels, H., Balarin, M. and Lowe, J. (Eds.), Educating for the Knowledge Economy? Critical Perspectives (pp. 43–66). Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-61507-5.

Journal Articles (11)

  1. Tholen, G., Relly, S.J., Warhurst, C. and Commander, J. (2016). Higher education, graduate skills and the skills of graduates: the case of graduates as residential sales estate agents. British Educational Research Journal, 42(3), pp. 508–523. doi:10.1002/berj.3222.
  2. Power, S., Allouch, A., Brown, P. and Tholen, G. (2016). Giving something back? Sentiments of privilege and social responsibility among elite graduates from Britain and France. International Sociology, 31(3), pp. 305–323. doi:10.1177/0268580916629966.
  3. Brown, P., Power, S., Tholen, G. and Allouch, A. (2016). Credentials, talent and cultural capital: a comparative study of educational elites in England and France. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 37(2), pp. 191–211. doi:10.1080/01425692.2014.920247.
  4. Allouch, A., Power, S., Brown, P. and Tholen, G. (2016). L’éthique des élites scolaires. Du mérite à la responsabilité chez les étudiants de Sciences Po Paris et de l’ université d’Oxford. L'Année sociologique .
  5. Tholen, G. (2015). What can research into graduate employability tell us about agency and structure? British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36(5), pp. 766–784. doi:10.1080/01425692.2013.847782.
  6. Tholen, G. (2014). Graduate employability and educational context: a comparison between Great Britain and the Netherlands. British Educational Research Journal, 40(1), pp. 1–17. doi:10.1002/berj.3023.
  7. Power, S., Brown, P., Allouch, A. and Tholen, G. (2013). Self, Career and Nationhood: The contrasting aspirations of British and French elite graduates. The British Journal of Sociology, 64(4), pp. 578–596. doi:10.1111/1468-4446.12048.
  8. James, S., Warhurst, C., Tholen, G. and Commander, J. (2013). What we know and what we need to know about graduate skills. Work, employment and society, 27(6), pp. 952–963. doi:10.1177/0950017013500116.
  9. Tholen, G., Brown, P., Power, S. and Allouch, A. (2013). The role of networks and connections in educational elites’ labour market entrance. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 34, pp. 142–154. doi:10.1016/j.rssm.2013.10.003.
  10. Tholen, G. (2013). The Social Construction of Competition for Graduate Jobs: A Comparison between Great Britain and the Netherlands. Sociology, 47(2), pp. 267–283. doi:10.1177/0038038512444815.
  11. Tholen, G. Symbolic Closure: Towards a Renewed Sociological Perspective on the Relationship between Higher Education, Credentials and the Graduate Labour Market. Sociology . doi:10.1177/0038038516641857.



SG1027 Researching Society: Qualitative Methods (UG)
SG2021 Understanding Social Change (UG)


Dissertation coordinator
year 3 tutor

Other Activities

Editorial Activity

  1. editorial board member 'Work, Employment and Society'.

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