Ethnic-Minority Climbers. Winning the Golden Calf

  • Marieke SlootmanEmail author
Open Access
Part of the IMISCOE Research Series book series (IMIS)


How can we understand the emergence of middle-class individuals who articulate their ethnic identities? What makes ‘minority climbers’—social climbers with low-class ethnic-minority backgrounds—identify with ethnic-minority labels such as ‘Moroccan’ or ‘Turkish’? This is a particularly relevant question because ethnic-minority identifications are not well-understood and often regarded with distrust in broader society. This is the case in many countries, including the Netherlands. This phenomenological mixed-methods study explores the ethnic identification of second-generation Moroccan Dutch and Turkish Dutch with high education levels. The focus is on practices of self-identification. Based on quantitative survey data and qualitative in-depth interviews, the study explores their identifications, when and why they articulate ethnic-minority labels, what their ethnic identity means for them, and how this develops over time. Based on four personal stories, inspired by the in-depth interviews, this introductory chapter introduces the book’s central themes. These stories exemplify common threads and at the same time give a feel for the variations between individuals.


Ethnicity Ethnic identity Social mobility Second generation Immigrants Minorities 
$$* \, * \, *$$
When actor Nasrdin Dchar was awarded the Golden Calf for Best Actor in 2011, the Dutch equivalent of the Oscars, in his short, improvised, emotion-laden speech he exclaimed:

I am Dutch!

I am proud, with Moroccan blood!

I am a Muslim!

And I won a freaking Golden Calf!!1

$$* \, * \, *$$

This speech by Dchar, a child of Moroccan immigrants, received much attention in the Netherlands. Many people held the opinion that with the emphasis on both his Dutchness and his Moroccan roots, he finally said what needed to be said. Others attacked him for his exclamation, as they probably saw his multiple identification as an undesirable expression of distancing from Dutch society or ‘incomplete integration’.2

His unequivocal statement is remarkable. Why would he emphasize his Dutchness while being awarded a prestigious Dutch award, and why would he highlight his ethnic background and religious affiliation at this particular moment?

Dchar stands as an example of a broader social phenomenon: children of lower-class immigrants who themselves climb into the middle class and articulate their minority identities. Why do these ‘minority climbers’ do so and what do these ethnic identities mean to them? This is a particularly relevant question because ethnic-minority articulations are not well-understood and are often regarded with distrust by the society at-large. This is the case in many countries, including the Netherlands.

In this study I explore the ethnic identification of several second-generation Moroccan Dutch and Turkish Dutch citizens with high education levels. I focus on practices of self-identification and study how they articulate their identity. I explore when and why they do so, what their ethnic identity means to them, and how this evolves over time.

This mixed-methods study is ‘phenomenological’. It does not aim to describe any objective reality, but describes how a social phenomenon is experienced by a specific group of individuals. The study forms an example of how to disentangle abstract processes of ‘identification’—in particular ‘ethnic identification’—and how to research what ethnicity means to individuals while avoiding ‘groupism’ or essentialism.

1.1 Identification of Minority Climbers

There is an urgent need to better understand the identifications of socially mobile citizens with an immigrant background. Children of the post-war immigrants are now adults and are increasingly finding their way into the middle classes, both in Europe (Crul and Schneider 2009) and in the United States (Kasinitz et al. 2002), and some of them articulate their ethnic-minority identities. At the same time, the theme of ethnic identification has become increasingly topical in discussions about immigrant integration. Whereas discussions on integration previously centered primarily on socioeconomic aspects, the focus has shifted to sociocultural identification. This is the case in countries around the world; the Netherlands forms no exception, as I will explain later. In fact, the case of the Netherlands is specifically interesting because of the sharp about-face from being a country renowned for its so-called tolerance of ethnic diversity to a country where an Islamophobic political party (the Freedom Party, or PVV, headed by Geert Wilders) has been very successful and where essentialist language has come to dominate the political realm. Children of immigrants and even their grandchildren are often assessed based on their identification, which is regarded as an expression of loyalty, or lack thereof, to the Netherlands. Individuals with higher education levels are by no means exempted from any of these judgments and criticisms. How do higher-educated immigrants maneuver within this landscape? How do these criticisms and judgments, under which entire ethnic categories are lumped together, affect them? With my study I hope to contribute to an increased understanding of the experiences of the (adult) children of immigrants and thus to an increased nuance in debates on integration and diversity.

Much of the academic literature on the ethnic identity of citizens with migration backgrounds can be found in the field of ‘immigrant integration’. Just like the dominant discourses in society, this literature considers ethnic-minority identification in connection with trajectories of ‘integration’. Ethnic-minority identification is seen as either an indication of ‘incomplete integration’ or as a resource for socioeconomic advancement. As I will further explain in Chap.  2, this framing—combined with the focus on groups and societal structures rather than individual experiences—limits the integration perspective’s value for understanding the meaning of ethnicity and ethnic identification for minority climbers. Instead, I build upon another body of literature that focuses on ‘ethnic options’ and acknowledges the individual, contextual, and variable character of ethnic identities. Bourdieu provides us with concepts, such as habitus and field, that help understand and describe the self-identifications of social climbers.

The study focuses on Dchar’s peers, that is, second-generation Moroccan-Dutch and Turkish-Dutch individuals who have achieved positions that are generally regarded as ‘integrated’. (I use quotation marks here because ‘integration’ is often used in a neutral, descriptive way while it implicitly carries normative and judgmental connotations and suggests that complete assimilation is desirable). I focus on minority climbers with high education levels and commensurate jobs, persons considered ‘well-integrated’ in structural terms. Yet they are unabatedly targeted by the demanding integration discourse and encounter incomprehension when, ‘despite’ their upward mobility, they ‘still’ stress their ethnic background. Please note that with this choice I do not suggest that those who fall outside this selection are therefore not ‘well-integrated’. Nor do I suggest that in my view immigrants and their children should show certain levels of socioeconomic advancement and sociocultural adaptation.

My findings are largely based on in-depth interviews that I conducted with 14 university-educated Moroccan Dutch and Turkish Dutch. To be precise: with Dutch men and women who are over 30 years old, hold professional positions (such as consultants, engineers, entrepreneurs), and who were either born in the Netherlands (shortly after their parents arrived here to work as ‘guest workers’ in low wage jobs) or arrived here with their parents at a very young age. I refer to them as ‘second-generation Moroccan Dutch and Turkish Dutch’, even though I consider this label to overly accentuate or even misrepresent their immigrant situation since as children of immigrants, most of them are not immigrants themselves. The study has a mixed-methods research design. The qualitative interviews are supplemented by quantitative survey data.

At the start of the project, I expected the social climbers to be an ‘extreme case’ (Bryman 2008). I assumed that if these social climbers—despite their relatively ‘assimilated’ socioeconomic position—experienced struggles, these would automatically apply to their lower-educated coethnics. However, the mechanisms revealed in this book suggest that the climbers form a ‘unique case’. Their experiences are shaped by their trajectories of social mobility in distinct ways.

As an overview of what will unfold in the book, in the next section I introduce four personal stories inspired by the interviews (Sect.1.2). I conclude the chapter with an outline of the book (Sect.1.3).

1.2 Four Voices

The experiences of the second-generation migrants under study vary broadly, yet also show similarities. To offer a feel for both the broader trends as well as the personal variations, I introduce four personal stories based on the interviews. These brief sketches of four personal lives focus especially on the roles of ethnic background and ethnic identifications. They also focus on social relations, particularly those shaped by ethnic background or, in turn, that impact ethnic identifications. Changes have been made for reasons of protecting anonymity.

The four stories are not ‘ideal types’. Thinking in ideal types would simplify reality too much, smoothing out the complexities and ambiguities that form part of the personal accounts in the interviews. The stories are meant to set the scene and give a sense of the study’s relevance. They hint at the directions that will unfold in subsequent chapters and illustrate the richness in experiences and accounts.

  • Said: ‘Whenever I can, I now tell them I am Moroccan’

    Said grew up in a village in the province of Noord-Holland as the only child of Moroccan immigrants. As his is the only immigrant family there, his friends in primary school are all ethnic Dutch. Said does not grow up isolated, but he is aware of his disadvantage in relation to his friends, even though they all come from lower-class backgrounds. He feels his friends learn a lot more at home than he does. He often does not understand complicated words. Sometimes, his parents do now allow him to play at his friends’ homes. In hindsight, he reflects on his childhood as the period when he discovered he was actually different in a negative way. These feelings also had some positive consequences, as they resulted in an extra drive to prove himself.

His time at secondary school (VWO, preparatory tertiary education), another ‘white’ environment, is a great period. Said is eager to learn and to close the gap with his peers. A low mark at school for a Dutch language test greatly upsets him, and from that moment on, he only receives high marks for Dutch. His friends, with their ambitions, are his role models. Hanging out with them, at their homes, increases his cultural baggage. This period is characterized by sensing and seizing opportunities, and by a growing awareness of his intellectual capabilities and confidence that he is on the right track. His ethnic background feels entirely irrelevant. When his ethnic background prompts the hairdresser to assume that he attends lower vocational education, he takes pride in disproving her stereotypical assumptions. He remembers this period as one characterized by increasing self-confidence and a decreased emphasis on his ethnic identity, a time when he learned ‘not to negative relate to his own identity’.

Entering university, he is amazed to see many other Moroccan Dutch students with a high education level. He always assumed he was the only one, but he suddenly meets companions who share his experiences. It feels like a revelation to meet with people who appear to be on the same wavelength, to experience such a level of mutual understanding. They have all felt like they were exceptions. They start a Moroccan-Dutch student association. Suddenly, most of his interactions are with other Moroccan Dutch; or, maybe about 60% of his interactions, as he also attends a regular Dutch fraternity. Looking back on it, this was a really fantastic period.

Said describes himself as ‘engaged’. He is ambitious and is involved in many societal initiatives whose aim is to bring groups together. This is largely in response to the widespread negativity towards the Moroccan community. But he also reaches out in his personal environment. He supports nieces and nephews in their school choices and stimulates them to aim high. He stresses that nowadays, in his professional environment, which is primarily ‘white’ and male, he does not feel different from his colleagues. Whenever he can, he mentions his ethnic background or that he is Muslim. He is proud that he is both successful and Moroccan and Muslim. In consciously emphasizing all of these aspects, he wants to show that these aspects can go together very well, contrary to general expectations. He wants to exemplify how the stereotypical images are too simplistic and that one can be religious, visit Morocco, and be oriented towards Dutch society at the same time. Sometimes, he feels singled out. He finds it annoying when asked to give his opinion on the 9/11 attacks ‘as a Muslim’ or when someone makes silly Moroccan jokes. He even feels somewhat awkward when someone declared him a success story because of his ethnic background: after all, what is the relevance of culture here?!

  • Berkant: ‘Now, I feel happy having two sides’

    Growing up in a medium-sized town in the province of Utrecht is not always easy. Berkant, like his siblings, experiences exclusion since his early youth because of his Turkish background. He feels alienated because he enters primary school unable to speak Dutch and is bullied by white kids in the neighborhood. Thankfully he is in school with other ‘Turkish’ pupils and the bullying makes him draw closer to his Turkish friends. When at VWO (tertiary preparatory education), he is the only ‘Turkish’ student in his secondary school; he feels tremendously isolated. He was never limited in his personal freedom by his parents, who encouraged him to take part in all social activities. Nevertheless, he feels insecure because everything feels unfamiliar. The celebration of birthday parties, school outings; he is in a continuous state of astonishment and feels a dire need to prove himself. His parents continue supporting his educational ambitions and provide financial support despite not having much money to spend.

When he enters university, it is a real peak experience. He meets other students who have a Turkish background, and this opens up an entirely new world to him. He feels an urgent need to share experiences with people who know what he is talking about. They found a Turkish student association and he later joins a Turkish professional organization. Having stuff to share—similar experiences and things to talk about—creates feelings of connection. This is why he feels more at home in the middle-class (primarily) ‘white’ neighborhood where he lives with his wife and children, than in the ‘black’ lower-class neighborhood where they lived before. However, his friends are still mostly Turkish. They have higher education levels and are mostly from relatively liberal, less orthodox backgrounds. Aside from his job, he actively participates in organizations aimed at supporting and stimulating ethnic-minority children. He is conscious about the importance of coethnic role models and about the lack thereof, and feels the need to ‘give back’ to the coethnic community so that others do not have similar experiences.

After university graduation, he decides to move to Turkey for a while. Like many other Turkish children, he has been raised with the prospect of finally returning to Turkey. Returning to Turkey was the dream of his parents, and for him Turkey had become Utopia, its mythical appeal confirmed during holidays. As he grew older, he began to realize that they would not return and that his future was in the Netherlands. Slowly, he became more positive and more oriented towards the Netherlands and his aversion towards everything Dutch (instigated by his childhood bullying) gradually faded. Nevertheless, at the time, he really looks forward to going to Turkey. The stay has a sobering effect. Turkey appears to be a normal country, with normal troubles. Despite his love of Turkish music and the Turkish football team, he realizes how strongly he has been shaped by growing up in the Netherlands. This makes him slowly accept and value his Dutchness, alongside his Turkishness, creating some sort of ‘balance’. Knowing that you can have two sides, knowing that you do not have to choose and disregard one but that you can rely on both, gives him a feeling of peacefulness. Knowing that you can have two countries where you feel at home makes him feel blessed. Upon his return to the Netherlands, he feels less bothered by the negative integration discourse and by how people talk about immigrants on television because of his increased confidence in the fact that he (also) belongs here.

Berkant highly values his relationship with his parents. The fact that he has outgrown their Turkish traditional mentality or social class does not prevent him from upholding the social ties. He considers nurturing the bonds to be his responsibility as he is able to understand them and their world, whereas his parents are much less able to understand him and his world; for example, the frequency of his holidays, the price of his clothes, decisions with regard to childcare, and, in particular, regarding religious views. In order to protect their feelings, he does not confront them with things they will never understand. To Berkant, it’s nothing special that his parents to fail to understand his life world. He grew up in an immigrant context and has always supported his parents in finding their way in Dutch society since his early childhood.

  • Esra: ‘I would say I am 60% Dutch and 40% Turkish’

    Esra grows up in a town in Twente. Her father works hard and hardly spends time at home. He stresses the importance of education and envisions Esra becoming a doctor. As she needs to go to university, her father urges her to follow the MAVO (lower secondary general education; which is way below the preparatory level for university). Thankfully, her teacher has better knowledge of the system and, recognizing her potential, sends her to VWO (preparatory tertiary education). Her parents’ support is limited to this emphasis on education and to freeing her from household tasks when she needs to do homework. Neither their abilities nor their interest stretch beyond this, which is partly because her father works hard and is largely absent from home. Esra’s parents are Kurdish, but her parents downplay the Kurdish identity in favor of the Turkish identity for reasons of security.

Esra grows up with very limited personal freedom. She is not allowed to participate in social activities outside school and does not have many friends. With her parents, she regularly visits Turkish (and later Kurdish) families with children, but these are not real friends. Sometimes she is called names by children in the neighborhood, but she does not register this as active exclusion. Esra does not feel really ‘different’; it is more that she feels severely isolated and has the pressing feeling that she is missing out on important things. She longs to get to know the world outside of her narrow and oppressive family world.

In secondary school, too, she is not allowed to join in social activities and school outings. The one time she stands up to her parents and gets them to allow her to join in a one-day school outing to the museum, on that morning, her mother does not wake her up in time to go, making her miss out on yet another event. Even at university, she is only allowed to travel back and forth to the campus each day and is not allowed to go on trips with friends. In comparison to other Turkish fathers, however, her father is relatively permissive. One time he even challenges other fathers who do not allow their daughters to follow higher educational tracks because there are boys at university. Esra does not often choose open confrontation. Many requests will never be granted, so she doesn’t even ask permission; some of these things, like going to the cinema, she does secretly during school hours. There is continuous negotiation. She continually balances her demands: what do I ask for and what do I not? Every time she wants to do something, she must offer extensive explanation and engage in intense efforts to persuade her parents. But Esra knows what she wants, is well prepared and determined, and manages to get permission to pursue the studies she wants and marry the husband of her choice. Reflecting on these experiences in the interview, she describes her parents’ enormous transformation over time. Her youngest siblings grew up ‘with totally different parents’, with ‘Dutch’ parents; they were allowed to participate in school trips—in anything! Her youngest sister even has a Dutch boyfriend, which was entirely unthinkable fifteen years ago.

Despite being discouraged from doing so by her parents (for reasons of her own protection), Esra becomes very interested in Turkish-Kurdish politics and is drawn to other people with a Turkish background. However, depending on the political situation of the moment, she sometimes also feels a gap. Nevertheless, the widest gap she feels is not due to the current political situation but to the conservative views that many Turkish and Kurdish people hold. She prefers to mix with people who are Alevi (one of the Islamic belief systems, which has a relatively modern segment). She also participates in the Turkish student association at her university, where she enjoys meeting a range of Turkish people who all have high education levels, including like-minded students who are relatively modern as well. This too is a place where she can share and develop her interest in Turkey. As an adult, living in a white village, she now has many local Dutch friends, who all have higher education (or are entrepreneurs). Even though her immediate environment is primarily Dutch, she also enjoys her participation in a Turkish professional association.

As Esra sees it, the fact that she cherishes and cultivates her Kurdish side is also related to her place in the Netherlands. The experiences of her youth prove that even though you do your utmost best, there is still ethnic name-calling. It also hurts when a nice man backs away when he learns you are not Italian but Turkish, and when your (non-religious) son is called a Muslim terrorist. But more subtle incidents also make clear that she will always be seen as different; for example when people specifically address her about the 9/11 attacks. Why her?? That does not mean, however, that she belongs in Turkey instead of the Netherlands. Esra feels very Dutch when she is in Turkey, but she does not feel very Turkish when she is here. So, basically, she feels more Dutch than Turkish. Let’s say, with regard to attitudes and opinions, she feels 60% Dutch and 40% Turkish—or Kurdish, for that matter. Yes, her roots are Kurdish, but she does not often use the Kurdish label because it has no place in Dutch discourse, as, unlike Turkey, it is not a country. With her immigrant background, she has the best of multiple worlds, as she combines the best of her Turkish/Kurdish side, and the best of her Dutch side.

  • Karim: ‘Again, they want me to come from Morocco’

    Growing up in this working class village in the province of North Brabant, Karim does not really have friendships with children other than his siblings. Like most of his siblings, he feels isolated. In hindsight, he does not attribute this to his Moroccan background, but to his introverted nature and constrained upbringing. After all, other kids with a Moroccan background who were more assertive were more popular.

Karim is not one of the cool guys and feels like an outsider. This feeling follows him into secondary school, where his graduation from HAVO (higher secondary general education) with honors marks a great moment. He feels exuberant, happy that he has proven himself to his parents and to the entire world. This is extra important to him because of his frustrations about the lack of school support because his teacher did not let him go straight to VWO (preparatory tertiary education) due to his ethnic background. The subsequent years at VWO, after finishing HAVO, are a slight improvement in social terms, as there is more room for a studious mentality and for his shyness. He loves reading, and Dutch and English literature offer a haven.

When he enters university, he feels totally disconnected from other students. He feels miserable and isolated. He is not familiar with habits like partying and clubbing and feels entirely estranged. He also experiences a huge gap between himself and other Moroccans; he does not feel ‘Moroccan’ and he is not into Morocco or any language other than Dutch. There is also little connection with the colleagues in the factory where he works during his holidays. Again, this does not seem related to his ethnic background, rather to a lack of common interests and commonalities. Karim does not share their love for cars and football, even if he tries, and they would not understand his passion for literature. From his parents’ side, he not only feels pressure to succeed in educational terms, but—encouraged by the local Moroccan community at the mosque—they also pressure him to be a ‘proper’ Moroccan. They express disappointment because his clothes and hair do not match their expectations, he is not fluent in their language, and he does not pray or visit the mosque; in addition, he is not immediately considering marriage.

His life changes when he meets an active, sociable student of Moroccan descent, Kamal, with whom he really connects. Karim finally feels understood instead of judged. He feels valued and stimulated. Together, they have endless conversations, and Karim opens up. As a Moroccan with a higher education, Kamal recognizes Karim’s struggles. He is familiar with the Moroccan community’s stringent expectations: the demand to succeed yet at the same time be like them. Karim becomes a member of the newly-founded Moroccan student association, where he befriends people from immigrant backgrounds for the first time. He adopts the label ‘foreigner’ (‘allochtoon’) and, as an ‘allochtoon’, he becomes a spokesperson. He reaches out to the university board and even to the mayor. He enjoys the status and the positive attention until he and Kamal realize that they have only become new stereotypes. They are still not real people but have grown into ‘model Moroccans’. This makes them again distance themselves from the label ‘foreigner’. Another sphere in which he feels at home in that period is the literature club in which he participates, along with other (ethnic-Dutch) students who share his passion for literature. He is cautious not to mix both spheres out of fear that he will place himself apart by stressing his ethnic side in the one context and his love for literature in the other.

He now describes himself as a critical Dutchman. Yes, he is also Moroccan, but much less so. Morocco is not his country; the Netherlands is. He does not feel at home in Morocco; he does not belong there. He grew up here, in the Netherlands, and all the reading has made him feel familiar with the Dutch heritage. His way of thinking, his mentality, is Dutch. He is relatively open-minded and not very dogmatic. The words in his head are Dutch. And while he does not celebrate Carnival, Christmas, or Queens Day, he is also not very attached to celebrating Ramadan. Yet it is as if society forces him to be Moroccan. Time and again people ask him where he is from, implying some place abroad. They like to emphasize his being different. They ask what he thinks about Moroccan criminals; as if he would be sympathetic towards them because he shares their ethnic background. On television it is the same story, where the media repeatedly speak about ‘unadapted Moroccans’ who supposedly do not fit in. The demand that people of Moroccan backgrounds adapt and ‘civilize’ are projected onto him by people who do not even know him. This pushes people away. It makes Karim feel ‘in between’. It is as if he does not belong anywhere. It feels as if one side does not understand him whereas the other side does not want to understand him. One moment he longs to belong and the other he is more rebellious and tells himself he does not care. But he hates it when others label him as Moroccan. That makes him feel he is reduced to his ethnicity. He does not even know what ‘being Moroccan’ means! This equally annoys him when he visits the mosque (where he occasionally accompanies his wife): ‘Moroccan’ people also place him somewhere in Morocco. But he is NOT from there!

1.3 In the Book

The four personal stories suggest that there is not some static, uniform, and predictable ethnic identification, while also hinting at broader mechanisms. Positions and identifications appear to be influenced by social others in certain ways. These positions and identifications are affected by the process of social mobility and develop over time. These themes will be explored throughout the book. Although religion and gender are not main foci in this study, they are mentioned when they appear relevant to the main theme.

The next three chapters describe the background of the study. In Chap.  2, I present the theoretical and analytical framework. I briefly discuss the main models of ‘integration’, the idea of ‘ethnic options’, and Bourdieu’s ‘theory of practice’. Furthermore, I discuss two general, opposing scientific views on ethnicity and identification—an objectivist (essentialist) perspective and a constructivist perspective—and show the potentials and drawbacks of both positions for understanding people’s lived experiences. This leads to the assemblage of an ‘analytical toolkit’. Chap.  3 deals with the mixed methods research design of my study. It describes the two methodological approaches, and reflects on the combination of qualitative and quantitative data. Chap.  4 sketches the societal and historical landscape of the study. It describes recent developments in the Dutch debate on integration, as well as the immigrant background of second-generation Moroccan Dutch and Turkish Dutch citizens and their current socioeconomic and sociocultural positions in Dutch society.

Chapters  5 through  7 form the empirical heart of the book. In Chap.  5, I explore the identifications of higher-educated second-generation Moroccan Dutch and Turkish Dutch. I use both quantitative and qualitative data to analyze how strongly they identify with the ethnic and national labels, and what these identifications mean for them. I examine the relationship between their ethnic articulation and other practices that are considered ‘ethnic’. The results of the quantitative analyses debunk the simplistic, essentialist idea that ethnic identity is an automatic reflection of a broader coherent sociocultural orientation. This raises questions that require an open, qualitative, interpretivist approach.

Chapter  6 focuses on the role of social context. Although, as Chap.  5 shows, the social climbers easily speak about their ethnic ‘identity’, Chap.  6 demonstrates that the articulation of identities is contextual and relational. The in-depth interviews demonstrate how the participants feel and position themselves in specific social situations; in relation to two different fields (coethnic settings and majority dominated settings) for two different life phases (childhood and current adulthood). Their stories show that they have various ‘ethnic options’ at their disposal and illustrate how their identifications are ways to negotiate belonging in various social settings, how they balance between autonomy and a need for belonging.

Chapter  7’s theme is the temporal aspect of ethnic identification. The stories reveal that the development of an ethnic identity that fits their higher education level is not a straightforward matter. Coethnic, co-educated peers turn out to be crucial in this process. The ‘soulmate spaces’ that emerged illustrate the intersectional character of ethnicity and class. The chapter furthermore reflects on social bonds and the role of ethnicity.

The final chapter, Chap.  8, synthesizes and discusses the results. I reflect on the relevance of ethnicity, of the ethnic label, for minority climbers. What follows is a reflection on the relationship between identification and social mobility. The book concludes with a discussion of the analytical, practical, and methodological implications of this study.


  1. 1.

    In Dutch he said: ‘Ik ben een Nederlander. Ik ben heel trotsmet Marokkaans bloed. Ik ben een moslim. En ik heb een f*cking Gouden Kalf in mijn hand’. See: Accessed 17 October 2013.

  2. 2.

    Dchar was proclaimed a hero, and many were deeply moved by his words and applauded his criticism of exclusionary discourses (see for example: the broadcast of ‘Pauw and Witteman’ of Oct 3, 2011 (; De Volkskrant 2011; Algemeen Dagblad 2011). He was regarded ‘the first’ to claim the right to be Dutch, Moroccan, and Muslim at the same time (Volkskrant Magazine 2011). In later interviews, Dchar referred to the negative reactions he received (see for example Volkskrant Magazine 2011 and the broadcast of De Jong’s interview with Dchar on: Accessed 10 August 2013.


  1. Algemeen Dagblad (2011, October 4). Nasrin Dchar held na speech op Filmgala.Google Scholar
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  3. Crul, M., & Schneider, J. (2009). The Second Generation in Europe: Education and the Transition to the Labour Market. London: OSI.Google Scholar
  4. De Volkskrant. (2011, October 3). “We worden geïnjecteerd met angst”. Interview Nasrdin Dchar, acteur en Gouden Kalf-winnaar.Google Scholar
  5. Kasinitz, P., Mollenkopf, J., & Waters, M. (2002). Becoming American/becoming New Yorkers: Immigrant incorporation in a majority minority city. International Migration Review, 36(4), pp.1020–1036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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