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The parallel decline of multiculturalism and the welfare state in the Netherlands

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Han Entzinger
Publisher / Publication: 
Chapter 6 in: Multiculturalism and the Welfare State: Recognition and Redistribution in Contemporary Democracies, Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka (eds.), Oxford University Press (Scholarship Online)
Abstract: 

This chapter examines whether there is a causal relationship between the recent changes in Dutch multiculturalist policies and the decline of the Dutch welfare state.

During the post-war years, the Dutch built one of the most generous welfare states in Europe and adopted a strongly multiculturalist Minorities Policy, which reflected an extension of their approach to historic diversities, known as pillarization. During the 1990s, however, the Netherlands reduced the scope of its welfare state and shifted away from multiculturalism. It is argued here that the corrosive effects of MCPs did not contribute to the decline of the Dutch welfare state. On one side, restructuring the welfare state reflected economic and ideological trends common to Western democracies, and there is little evidence that issues of immigration or multiculturalism played a role in the political shift. On the other side, the shift away from the traditional approach to multiculturalism was driven by concern that the approach was contributing to the exclusion of minorities from the economic and social mainstream of Dutch society, and not by concerns about the impact of multiculturalism on the welfare state.

The growing gap between facts and discourse on immigrant integration in the Netherlands

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Han Entzinger
Publisher / Publication: 
Global Studies in Culture & Power, 21 (6): 693-707
Abstract: 

The Netherlands’ recent history of dealing with immigrant integration provides an excellent example of the dangers of thinking in terms of fixed ‘national’ integration models.

When first confronted with large-scale immigration, the Netherlands embarked on a policy of multiculturalism. Its current approach is one of the most assimilationist in Western Europe: several in-between forms have also been tried out. This article describes the evolution of Dutch thinking and Dutch policy-making on immigrant integration over the past few decades, and it analyses why the country has switched so frequently from one model to another. The harsher approach of this moment can be explained neither by major shifts that might have occurred in public opinion, nor by the actual course of the immigrant integration process, which has been advancing steadily. The root causes of the growing gap between facts and discourse lie in popular anxiety provoked by profound changes in Dutch society.

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