Liberal Multiculturalism and the Fair Terms of Integration

Part of the series Palgrave Politics of Identity and Citizenship Series pp 126-138

Interpreting Multiculturalism in the Netherlands: Nation-Building, Civic Allegiance and Multiple Belonging

  • Pieter Dronkers


The Netherlands has become a warning about the dangers of multiculturalism. By 2000, Paul Scheffer (2000) had labelled Dutch integration policies ‘multicultural’ and their outcomes a ‘tragedy’ (cf. Joppke, 2004, p. 253; Koopmans et al., 2005, p. 240). Scheffer summarised Dutch multiculturalism as encouraging the emancipation of minorities while securing their freedom to remain loyal to the cultural and religious traditions of their country of origin. Such an integration framework tends to be counterproductive, since difference- based policies evoke the very exclusionary reactions they try to avoid (Sniderman and Hagendoorn, 2007, p. 135). As Dutch Integration Minister, Eberhard van der Laan, concluded in 2009, the approach of his predecessors had put social trust and civic engagement under pressure, and the unrestricted presence of a diversity of cultures had resulted in alienation and disorientation among autochthon citizens (Parliamentary Documents II, 2009–10, p. 2).