When Ways of Life Collide: Multiculturalism and Its Discontents in the Netherlands

By Paul M. Sniderman; Louk Hagendoorn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
Introduction

THIS IS A BOOK about a vulnerability of liberal democracy. The sub- ject is the incorporation of immigrant minorities in Western Europe. The issue is multiculturalism.

It is a story of ironies from the beginning. The argument for mul- ticulturalism now is made on grounds of principle, but the policy originally was adopted out of convenience. The assumption was that immigrants would be needed for the economy for only a short while. Then they would (and should) leave. Their ties to the country and culture they came from, therefore, should be maintained. Hence the government programs to sustain the culture of minority immi- grants—to ensure, for example, that they continued to speak the lan- guage of the country they came from, even if they did not master the one they were in. The objective was to equip them to leave—which is to say, to discourage them from staying.1

A decade later, as though it were quite natural, a policy that began with one aim was committed to the opposite one. The government re- doubled its efforts to support traditional institutions and values of im- migrants, not to equip them to return to their former country but to embed them in their new one. Multiculturalism had taken off. Prin- ciple had become the driving force, with costs or risks a secondary consideration, when a consideration at all. The countries that have made the most ambitious commitment to multiculturalism, the Neth- erlands and Great Britain, made the commitment first; they debated

1 See, for example, Entzinger and Beizeveld 2003; Hagendoorn, Veenman, and Volle-
bergh 2003a.

-1-

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When Ways of Life Collide: Multiculturalism and Its Discontents in the Netherlands
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Multiculturalism and Its Discontents in the Netherlands - When Ways of Life Collide iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Figures and Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Muslims 17
  • Chapter 3 - Prejudice 43
  • Chapter 4 - Identity 71
  • Chapter 5 - Top-Down Politics 100
  • Chapter 6 - Tolerance 123
  • A Note about the Data 139
  • Bibliography 141
  • Index 149
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