The global financial crisis and public sentiment towards immigration and immigrants in the Netherlands : implications for liberal democracy and political culture

Chippendale, Emma (2012-03)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 ushered in a new era of globalisation and with it, intensified levels of global migration. The movement of people across increasingly fluid and penetrable boundaries has altered the demographic profile of European states and this cultural diversity has confronted contemporary Western liberal democracies with a unique set of challenges concerning the integration of diverse groups into society for the purpose of fostering cohesion and domestic stability. The effects of cultural diversity are not limited to demographics however, and this thesis focuses predominantly on the political and public responses that this phenomenon has evoked. The context of the Netherlands provides a particularly enlightening example of the way in which attempts to manage cultural diversity have stimulated intensive debate on immigration and integration topics, which have subsequently become firmly ensconced within public and political discourse. This ongoing debate in the Dutch context has brought to the fore wider questions pertaining to citizenship, national identity and culture. More importantly, these issues have exposed the limits of Dutch tolerance: increasingly restrictionist immigration and integration policy over the last two decades, and in the last 10 years in particular, has appeared incongruous with stereotypical perceptions of the Netherlands as an ultra-liberal and progressive paragon of multiculturalism. This thesis therefore seeks to rework this image of the Netherlands by observing possible shifts in public attitudes towards immigrants and immigration in the context of considerably less favourable material circumstances, occasioned by the current global financial crisis. Attitudes towards Muslims in Dutch society are of particular interest to this research given the particular cultural and symbolic threat that Islam is considered to pose to liberal values. Realistic Group Conflict Theory provides a useful framework for analysing inter-group competition and conflict stemming from both material and non-material perceptions of threat. Whilst particular focus is accorded to the specific macro-economic conditions of the ongoing financial crisis for observing potentially shifting sentiments, this discussion is situated within a larger national debate about immigration and integration spanning two decades. Linking public perception data to analyses of Dutch integration and immigration policy, patterns of voting behaviour and the real effects of the financial crisis on the Dutch economy, the ultimate intention of this research, then, is to assess the prospects and overall “health” of liberal democracy in the Netherlands. The country‟s experiences in attempting to deal with cultural pluralism reveal that liberal democratic norms have not simply been entrenched as “givens” and they are subject to contestation and ambiguity. It is in attempts to address difference and “otherness” in society that the shortfalls of Dutch liberal democracy have been laid bare.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Met die val van die Berlynse Muur in 1989 het „n nuwe tydperk van globalisasie aangebreek en daarmee saam, verskerpte vlakke van globale migrasie. Die beweging van mense oor meer toegangklike grense het die demografiese profiel van Europese state verander. Hierdie kulturele diversiteit het huidige Westerse liberale demokrasieë met „n unieke stel uitdagings gekonfronteer, aangaande die integrasie van diverse groepe in die samelewing met die doel om saamhorigheid te bevorder. Die effek van kulturele diversiteit is egter nie beperk tot demografie nie en hierdie tesis fokus hoofsaaklik op die politieke en openbare reaksies wat die verskynsel uitgelok het. Die Nederlandse konteks verskaf „n besondere insiggewende voorbeeld van die manier waarop pogings om kulturele diversiteit te hanteer, intensiewe debat oor immigrasie- en integrasie-onderwerpe gestimuleer het, wat sedertdien stewig in die openbare en politieke diskoers verskans is. Die voortdurende debat in die Nederlandse verband het wyer vrae aangaande burgerskap, nasionale identiteit en kultuur laat ontstaan. Selfs van groter belang is die feit dat hierdie vraagstukke die perke van Nederlandse verdraagsaamheid ontbloot het: toenemende inperkings op immigrasie- en integrasie-beleid oor die afgelope twee dekades en veral in die laaste 10 jaar, het teenstrydig voorgekom met die stereotipiese indruk van Nederland as „n ultra-liberale en progressiewe toonbeeld van multi-kulturalisme. Hierdie tesis be-oog derhalwe om hierdie beeld van Nederland te ondersoek deur moontlike veranderings in openbare houdings teenoor immigrante en immigrasie waar te neem, teen die agtergrond van aansienlik minder gunstige materiële omstandighede, veroorsaak deur die huidige globale finansiële krisis. Houdings teenoor Moslems in die Nederlandse samelewing is van besondere belang in hierdie ondersoek teen die agtergrond van die beweerde kulturele en simboliese bedreiging wat Islam vir liberale waardes inhou. Realistiese Groep-Konflikteorie voorsien „n nuttige raamwerk om inter-groep wedywering en konflik, wat spruit uit beide materiële en nie-materiële perspesies van bedreiging, te analiseer. Alhoewel besondere aandag geskenk word aan die spesifieke makro-ekonomiese omstandighede van die huidige finansiële krisis om moontlike veranderings in houdings waar te neem, is hierdie bespreking deel van „n groter nasionale debat oor immigrasie en integrasie oor die afgelope twee dekades. Deur inligting oor openbare persepsie te verbind met die Nederlandse integrasie-en immigrasie-beleid, stempatrone en die ware uitwerkings van die finansiële krisis op die Nederlandse kultuur, is die uiteindelike doel van hierdie navorsing om die vooruitsigte en algehele “gesondheid” van liberale demokrasie in Nederland te evalueer. Die land se ervaring van kulturele pluralisme bewys dat liberale demokratiese norme nie verskans is nie en dat hulle onderhewig is aan omstredenheid en dubbelsinnigheid. Die pogings om verskille en “andersheid” in die samelewing aan te spreek, het die tekortkominge van die Nederlandse liberale demokrasie ontbloot.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/19928
This item appears in the following collections: