- Eeke Dix
- Sociology School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
- Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
- Research Interests
- Multiculturalism, nationalism, national identity
The Future Success of Multiculturalism: national identity perceptions and citizenship in the Netherlands
BA in Language and Culture Studies, University of Utrecht
(Specialization: International Affairs)
Msc. in Nationalism Studies, University of Edinburgh
The Netherlands has often been considered a country renowned for its tolerant attitude in dealing with diversity. Yet, it can be argued that the Dutch approach to multiculturalism has rigidly categorized ethnic communities and thus reified difference rather than advocating individual choice and a proliferation of culture. In this regard, Dutch multiculturalism has been a form of ‘social caging’ (Hall 2003) portrayed in the Dutch tradition of pillarization. This is what makes the Dutch case study an exciting and interesting one; the internationally perceived idea of the Netherlands as the multicultural example against the actual rigidity of Dutch multiculturalism from the 1980s onwards. Harsher immigration policies, the popularity of right wing politicians, the ethnic redefining of citizenship laws and the focus on the government’s failure to integrate the large Moroccan and Turkish Muslim community all reflect the abandonment of the “ideal” multicultural society the Netherlands was once said to be. The explanation for the current fragility and abandonment of multiculturalism in the Netherlands might lie in the assumption that the “ideal” Dutch multicultural society has not been that ideal after all.
This might explain why the murder of Theo van Gogh proved to be such a catalytic event. In November 2004, van Gogh, a Dutch film director critical of and provocative towards Islam, was murdered by a young Dutch Muslim of Moroccan descent. Almost instantly, a small crisis developed within Dutch society: vandalism and arson attacks were committed against mosques and Muslim schools. At the same time, around twenty thousand people took to Dam Square in Amsterdam to demonstrate for the protection of a “Dutch” democratic value, namely freedom of speech.
If multiculturalism is to work, the key focus should be on the relationship between cultural diversity and nationalism. This research proposes to redefine multiculturalism by finding a balance between national identity and political citizenship, between democratic/civil and cultural connotations that the nation-state embodies. What do perceptions on national identity tell us about how we should identify a national identity that is all-embracing, equal and responsive to every individual disregarding cultural or ethnic background? In short, to what extent can altered perceptions of national identity create a new premise in multicultural societies?
Dr. Michael Rosie (Sociology), University of Edinburgh
Dr. James Kennedy (Sociology), University of Edinburgh
- Dr. Hendrik Muller Vaderlandsch Fonds
- Stichting Fundatie van de Vrijvrouwe van Renswoude
- The Future Success of Multiculturalism: national identity perceptions and citizenship in the Netherlands. Paper presented at the 5th General Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research. Section: Migration, Panel: Citizenship Attribution in Comparative European Perspective. Potsdam, 10-12 September 2009