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Lafayette College

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Program Name

The Netherlands: Islam, Diaspora Communities, and the EU

Abstract

The Netherlands has a large population of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants. With a population of approximately 16.6 million, almost 20 percent of the population is non-indigenous. Turkish and Moroccan immigrants each represent approximately one tenth of the entire population, together accounting for one fifth of the immigrant population. The Netherlands began accepting Turkish and Moroccan immigrants in the 1970s. These immigrants were accepted as guest workers for manual labor jobs. Most historians agree that the first generation of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants did not intend to stay permanently in the Netherlands. Further, native Dutch people did not expect them to stay permanently, which many historians believe is the root for some of the modern intolerance of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands. Despite this, this generation of immigrants stayed because of the better economic opportunities in their new home.

There is a great deal of literature discussing the challenges that the first generation of these immigrants face. Often overlooked are the struggles faced by these people’s children and grandchildren, who are the second and third generation immigrants. Adolescence is a tumultuous time of trying discover a sense of self. This development process is even more complicated for second and third generation immigrants, who risk feeling lost between two cultures and two countries. To achieve positive integration, children of immigrant families must feel connected to their Dutch identity as well as to their heritage.

This paper will explore some of these issues by asking two main questions: First, how do second and third generation immigrants establish their sense of identity and connectedness to both Dutch and Turkish (or Moroccan) culture? To answer this I will examine schools, after school activities, neighborhoods, families, and even such seemingly insignificant things such as what type of food is eaten at home. The second question will examine the schools. Generally speaking, in urban areas, the majority of second and third generation immigrant youth attend “Black Schools,” which is an informal name for schools that are primarily attended by children of immigrant families. Recently, a new type of school has emerged in the Netherlands called “Schools in the World,” which are Black School that have earned this new name by participating in an integration project. Thus, the question is, how do these schools help or inhibit second and third generation immigrants establish their sense of identity?

The results show that there are five aspects of daily life that are most important to second and third generation immigrant youths develop their sense of identity: school, after school activities, home life, neighborhood, and religion. Second and third generation immigrant youths achieve positive integration when these five aspects of life expose them daily to both Dutch culture and to the culture of their heritage. In other words, they need to have balanced interaction with both Dutch society and with their heritage in their daily lives in order to have a balanced sense of identity.

The results on the school study show that schools have a great capacity to facilitate second and third generation immigrant youths in developing a balanced sense of identity. Black Schools can help second and third generation youths simply by being multicultural. Beyond that, Black Schools do not appear to be taking any active measure to facilitate intercultural learning. Schools in the World seem to provide a more positive environment for second and third generation immigrants. Schools in the World actively embrace their multiculturalism and have enhanced their curriculum to include more cultural studies.

The first chapter will discuss the challenges of being a second or third generation Turkish or Moroccan immigrant in the Netherlands. This section will focus on the sociological challenges faced by the youths, rather than focusing on, for example, the socio-economic challenged faced by the adults. This section will illuminate how it is difficult for second and third generation youths to achieve positive integration, that is, a sense of connection to Dutch culture and a sense of connection to their heritage.

The second chapter will examine how second and third generation immigrant youths achieve positive integration. I will do this by presenting the research findings based on interviews conducted with second and third generation immigrant youths in the Netherlands.

The third chapter will discuss how schools in the Netherlands facilitate or inhibit second and third generation immigrant youths in finding their balanced sense of identity. This discussion will be limited to a comparison of two types of schools in the Netherlands (Black Schools and Schools in the World) to see which provides a more positive experience for second and third generation immigrant youths. Please note that the majority of formal research was focused on the issues addressed in Chapter 2, while Chapter 3 is more speculation and qualitative analysis based primarily on informal interviews.

Disciplines

Public Policy | Social Welfare

 

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