Monday, September 24, 2007

UC podcast: Multiculturalism in the Netherlands

When I left the Netherlands in 1998, I knew its multiculturalism was no idyllic sharing of one country for all of its inhabitants, but for the majority it was nevertheless a pretty sturdy ideology. One can certainly say that since the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, the Netherlands society has lost whatever naiveté it had and in the process much of its faith in multiculturalism. The question is, whether multiculturalism as such has gone lost for the Netherlands.

The University Channel podcast invited researcher Paul Sniderman to talk about the book he wrote with Louk Hagendoorn: When Ways of Life Collide: Multiculturalism and Its Discontents in the Netherlands. Much of his speech is spent on explanations and justifications for the quantifiable research, but sooner rather than later exactly this question is addressed. It so turns out, that what happened to the Netherlands, can be seen as the result of the somewhat naive stand in multiculturalism. Sniderman doesn't think however the multiculturalism is wrong, it is rather sensitive and vulnerable, but essential to liberal democracy.

He also doesn't think multiculturalism is lost on the Netherlands or on the Dutch. He shows the complexity of having colliding cultures living together. But he also shows the Dutch largely stick to their tolerance with other cultures, albeit with altered emphasis. Emphasis that shifted from the differences in culture, to the integration of different cultures into one society.
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