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

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Overview

"Sniderman and Hagendoorn have provided a nuanced portrait of some of the major tensions of our time—the conflicts between diversity and loyalty, identity versus tolerance. This research goes far beyond the Netherlands in its implications, demonstrating how, in an attempt to honor differences, we may exacerbate them."—Diana Mutz, University of Pennsylvania

"This is the best empirical examination of multiculturalism I have ever read. This book demonstrates that attitudes toward immigrants and immigration are complex, grounded in values that are different between majority and minority communities, and connected to the desire of the Dutch to protect their identity as liberal, tolerant, and committed to multiculturalism. No empirical analysis of multiculturalism of this scale has ever been conducted, in Europe or elsewhere. This is a highly original attack on a problem of the utmost importance."—James L. Gibson, coauthor of Overcoming Intolerance in South Africa

"This is a book about the policies of multiculturalism, using the Dutch case as an example of the problems they can give rise to, especially with the Muslim minority. The main argument is that policies that were designed to protect the distinct way of life of the Muslims and promote tolerance are paradoxically breeding intolerance on both sides. This is an excellent and provocative book, on a very topical issue, that goes against the dominant frames of interpretation of multiculturalism and prejudice in social sciences."—Nonna Mayer, coeditor of Extreme Right Activists in Europe

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Editorial Reviews

The Nation
The authors of When Ways of Life Collide deem the Dutch multicultural experiment to be a grand and unequivocal failure. In their view, multiculturalism and liberal democracy are fundamentally incompatible. Their argument is a relatively simple one: By encouraging 'difference' among ethnic subgroups, multiculturalism ends up turning these groups into targets of resentment and thereby insuring their rejection by the majority culture.
— Richard Wolin
David Marx.co.uk
When Ways of Life Collide is a provocative, yet empirical assessment of intrinsic, yet nebulous multiculturalism in today's society.
— David Marx
Review of Middle East Studies
When Ways of Life Collide is a clever book that offers insight into the attitudinal mechanics of prejudice. These are important issues with high political salience that should interest students of the Netherlands and many other countries around the world.
— Rahsaan Maxwell
European Sociological Review
This thought-provoking book provides many interesting insights into the relationships between a culture's values, prejudice, perceived cultural and economic threats, and exclusionary reactions against immigrants, derived from the analysis of a skillfully designed survey. It is relevant to a wide audience concerned with attitudes towards immigrant minorities, immigration, and multiculturalism, as well as to those interested in innovations in survey design.
— Eline A. de Rooij
The Nation - Richard Wolin
The authors of When Ways of Life Collide deem the Dutch multicultural experiment to be a grand and unequivocal failure. In their view, multiculturalism and liberal democracy are fundamentally incompatible. Their argument is a relatively simple one: By encouraging 'difference' among ethnic subgroups, multiculturalism ends up turning these groups into targets of resentment and thereby insuring their rejection by the majority culture.
Choice - T.D. Boswell
Sniderman and Hagendoorn expertly describe how, beginning in the 1980s, elite politicians and academics in the Netherlands advocated for an extreme form of accommodation for Dutch immigrants.
David Marx.co.uk - David Marx
When Ways of Life Collide is a provocative, yet empirical assessment of intrinsic, yet nebulous multiculturalism in today's society.
Review of Middle East Studies - Rahsaan Maxwell
When Ways of Life Collide is a clever book that offers insight into the attitudinal mechanics of prejudice. These are important issues with high political salience that should interest students of the Netherlands and many other countries around the world.
European Sociological Review - Eline A. de Rooij
This thought-provoking book provides many interesting insights into the relationships between a culture's values, prejudice, perceived cultural and economic threats, and exclusionary reactions against immigrants, derived from the analysis of a skillfully designed survey. It is relevant to a wide audience concerned with attitudes towards immigrant minorities, immigration, and multiculturalism, as well as to those interested in innovations in survey design.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2008 Robert E. Lane Award, Political Psychology Section of the American Political Science Association

"The authors of When Ways of Life Collide deem the Dutch multicultural experiment to be a grand and unequivocal failure. In their view, multiculturalism and liberal democracy are fundamentally incompatible. Their argument is a relatively simple one: By encouraging 'difference' among ethnic subgroups, multiculturalism ends up turning these groups into targets of resentment and thereby insuring their rejection by the majority culture."—Richard Wolin, The Nation

"Sniderman and Hagendoorn expertly describe how, beginning in the 1980s, elite politicians and academics in the Netherlands advocated for an extreme form of accommodation for Dutch immigrants."—T.D. Boswell, Choice

"When Ways of Life Collide is a provocative, yet empirical assessment of intrinsic, yet nebulous multiculturalism in today's society."—David Marx, David Marx.co.uk

"When Ways of Life Collide is a clever book that offers insight into the attitudinal mechanics of prejudice. These are important issues with high political salience that should interest students of the Netherlands and many other countries around the world."—Rahsaan Maxwell, Review of Middle East Studies

"This thought-provoking book provides many interesting insights into the relationships between a culture's values, prejudice, perceived cultural and economic threats, and exclusionary reactions against immigrants, derived from the analysis of a skillfully designed survey. It is relevant to a wide audience concerned with attitudes towards immigrant minorities, immigration, and multiculturalism, as well as to those interested in innovations in survey design."—Eline A. de Rooij, European Sociological Review

Choice
Sniderman and Hagendoorn expertly describe how, beginning in the 1980s, elite politicians and academics in the Netherlands advocated for an extreme form of accommodation for Dutch immigrants.
— T.D. Boswell
The Nation
The authors of When Ways of Life Collide deem the Dutch multicultural experiment to be a grand and unequivocal failure. In their view, multiculturalism and liberal democracy are fundamentally incompatible. Their argument is a relatively simple one: By encouraging 'difference' among ethnic subgroups, multiculturalism ends up turning these groups into targets of resentment and thereby insuring their rejection by the majority culture.
— Richard Wolin
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691141015
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 2/2/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Paul M. Sniderman is Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr., Professor of Public Policy at Stanford University. Louk Hagendoorn is Professor of Social Science at Utrecht University.
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Read an Excerpt

When Ways of Life Collide

Multiculturalism and Its Discontents in the Netherlands
By Paul M. Sniderman Louk Hagendoorn

Princeton University Press

Copyright © 2006 Princeton University Press
All right reserved.




Chapter One

Introduction

THIS IS A BOOK about a vulnerability of liberal democracy. The subject 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 multiculturalism 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 immigrants-to ensure, for example, that they continued to speak the language 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.

A decade later, as though it were quite natural, a policy that began with one aim was committed to the opposite one. The government redoubled its efforts to support traditional institutions and values of immigrants, not to equip them to return to their former country but to embed them in their new one. Multiculturalism had taken off. Principle had become the driving force, with costs or risks a secondaryconsideration, when a consideration at all. The countries that have made the most ambitious commitment to multiculturalism, the Netherlands and Great Britain, made the commitment first; they debated the consequences only later. Informed circles agreed until recently that multiculturalism was the right policy-right as a matter of effective public policy, but above all right morally.

It is easy to see why. Large-scale immigration of cultural minorities was underway throughout Western Europe. Cultural diversity was a fact of life. Those responsible for political and social institutions had to deal with a host of immediate problems. Race riots were the most threatening, although not necessarily the most urgent. The conditions of life for immigrants in the early years were appalling; and the intolerance that welcomed them was rightly seen in the context of recent history. The Holocaust had taken place in the lifetime of many who now had responsibility for the political and economic institutions of liberal democracy. Against this background, to oppose multiculturalism was to demonstrate a lack of humanity. It was not merely a moral duty to combat prejudice against disadvantaged minorities; it was a badge of honor.

Prejudice is a powerful force behind opposition to multiculturalism. But opposition to multiculturalism is not the same as intolerance. Paradoxically, multiculturalism now is being challenged from opposing sides in Western European democracies-from those at their periphery because they are not committed to the values of liberal democracy, and from those at their center because they are committed to them. This study is an effort to understand why.

ONE VIEW OF THE ISSUE

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in 1969 in Mogadishu Somalia as the daughter of Hirsi Magan. When she was twenty-two, her parents arranged a marriage to a Somalian nephew in Canada. Her story is that on her way to Canada, she made her escape to the Netherlands and abandoned her faith, becoming a critic of Muslim treatment of women in the Netherlands. In all its variants, multiculturalism is committed to achieving a greater measure of equality between cultures; but it was precisely a difference in cultures that legitimized the inequality of Muslim women in Western European countries. As a critic of Muslim treatment of women, Ali became a critic of multiculturalism. She achieved prominence almost instantaneously, although not the kind one seeks. After only one appearance on television, Muslim extremists immediately threatened Ali with death. September 11 and the assassinations and mass murders that followed in its wake made all things, if not possible, certainly conceivable. Ayaan Hirsi Ali became the first public figure to go into hiding in the Netherlands since the Nazi persecution of Jews hiding during World War II. She had escaped from a traditional society only to be forced into hiding in a liberal one.

Ali had to hide, but she didn't have to be silent. She made a short film about Muslim women, calling attention to the illiberal aspects of Islam as she perceived them. The movie, Submission, which was shown on Dutch television on a late summer night in August 2004, begins by showing a veiled female body overlaid with lines from the Koran-an explicit attack on Muslim fear of female sexuality. Submission is a censure of traditional Muslim views of the status of women. One of Ayaan's close friends who assisted her in making the movie was Theo van Gogh. A nephew of the artist Vincent van Gogh, he had a deserved reputation for offensiveness and vulgarity. Van Gogh repeatedly labeled Muslims as people who have intercourse with a species of mountain ram. Following the release of the film, van Gogh was threatened. On an early November morning in 2004, he was shot seven times, stabbed in the chest, and had his throat slit. The assassin turned out to be a young Moroccan man, second generation, well educated, fluent in Dutch. Only a few years earlier he had been featured in a Dutch magazine, his picture on its cover, touted as an example of the success of integrating Muslims into Dutch society. Subsequently beset by personal and family difficulties, he had become an affiliate of an international gang of Muslim terrorists.

CONFLICTS

Before September 11, multiculturalism was openly challenged only by political figures on the right-most often the extreme right. Since then, the issue of multiculturalism and Muslims has moved to the center of Western European politics. This is dramatically so in the site of our study, the Netherlands, but it is broadly so throughout Western Europe. It would seem obvious that the strains over Muslims and multiculturalism follow from September 11 and its consequences. We shall show, however, that the fundamental divisions were there before September 11; which is also to say, not because of September 11.

This is a study of a tangle of conflicts: over tolerance, identity, the role of elites in liberal democracies, and even the values of liberal democracy. All were apparent before September 11.

The first line of conflict-between the tolerant and the intolerant-is so much easier to see than the others that it has seemed to many thoughtful people to be the heart-even the whole-of the problem. In Western Europe, as everywhere, a substantial portion of society is prejudiced. They have a litany of complaints about minorities-and not just about this or that minority but about one minority after another. Their prejudice gives them a political rudder to steer by. They do not need to know policy details. All they need to know is how they feel about minorities. The more they dislike them, the more likely they are to reject policies that help them and to support those that exclude them.

It would be foolish to overlook the persisting power of prejudice. But it would be nearly as serious a mistake to underestimate the power of liberal democracies in containing it politically. That is partly because the most susceptible to prejudice in a liberal democracy are those who are at its margins socially and politically. They dislike minorities because they themselves are poor and poorly educated. But because they are poor and poorly educated, they are less likely to act politically on their prejudices; even when they do, they are less likely to be politically influential than their fellow citizens at the center of society. More is at work than prejudice in popular reactions to multiculturalism.

People cannot flourish, the argument for multiculturalism runs, unless they can become who they truly and fully are. They-we-are not isolated atoms, each complete by himself or herself. We belong to larger communities, each with its customs, accomplishments, memories of what was, and images of what should be. For people to realize their full worth, they must appreciate the worth of their collective identity; still more, the culture they live in must recognize the full worth of their collective identity. But ethnic and religious immigrants in Western Europe live in societies that historically have not valued their cultures. The larger society is thus obliged to support the institutions symbolizing and sustaining the collective identities of minorities just as it does those symbolizing and sustaining the identity of the majority.

There is a generosity of spirit here. Britain and the Netherlands have promoted multiculturalism to expand opportunities for minorities to enjoy a better life and to win a respected place of their own in their new society. It is all the more unfortunate, as our findings will show, that the outcome has been the opposite-to encourage exclusion rather than inclusion. The policy put in place to achieve conciliation has created division-certainly of majority against minority, perhaps also of minority against majority. The question is why.

Multiculturalism, like Joseph's coat of many colors, comes in many variations. But in one degree or another, they strive to call attention to differences and to minimize the overlap between them. To some degree this is true for all minorities, but it is true in the highest degree for Muslims, since the points of difference are so visible and go so deep.

What are the consequences of making issues of cultural and national identity a focal point of political argument? We had a good idea about one consequence before we began this study, and no idea at all about the second. The consequence we anticipated was this: To the extent that members of the majority attach importance to their national identity, the more likely they will be to perceive their cultural identity to be threatened. In turn, perceiving minorities as threatening, they reject them. We shall show that both components are true. Valuing a collective identity increases the likelihood of seeing it threatened; seeing it threatened increases the likelihood the majority will reject the minority. This is an important result but not a surprising one. It signals that there is a constituency that can be galvanized in opposition to immigrant minorities. Although public opinion studies can only be suggestive, we shall present results indicating that this constituency is a large one.

The second consequence of making issues of identity a focal point of political argument, the one we had not anticipated, reveals more fully the risk of identity politics. Just as it is true that some people are more concerned about a threat to their cultural identity than others, it is also true that the same person can be more concerned about such a threat in some circumstances than in others. It is obvious how people who perceive a threat will respond when issues of cultural identity are brought to the fore. It is by no means obvious how people who do not believe that there is a threat to the national culture will respond.

Here are two scenarios. In the first, when politicians bring issues of collective identity to the fore, it sparks a reaction among those already concerned about issues of identity. In the second, it also sparks a reaction among those who ordinarily are not concerned about issues of identity.

The politics of the two scenarios differ profoundly. To the degree the first applies, it is relatively easy on the one hand for political leaders to evoke an anti-immigrant reaction from those already predisposed against immigrants but difficult for them to do more. To the degree the second scenario applies, it is easier for political leaders to break out of the core constituency concerned with issues of identity and provoke exclusionary reactions in the electorate as a whole.

Which scenario better captures the dynamic of identity politics in Western Europe? We carried out special purpose experiments to observe how ordinary citizens respond when issues of national or cultural identity become salient. The experiments are designed to answer two questions that are worth distinguishing. The first has to do with how easily an exclusionary reaction can be elicited. It is one thing for people to react negatively to minorities when a spotlight is trained on issues of identity or when the institutions and values of their society are openly threatened. It is another thing for them to react to just a word or phrase. The second has to do with how wide the circle is in the larger society that reacts when their national identity is made salient. Obviously, those at the periphery of society will react. But what about those at its center? They are markedly more tolerant and markedly less likely to believe that the majority culture is threatened. And yet, as we shall see, they, too, can be brought into the circle of opposition by making collective identities salient.

Of course, a reaction can be evoked from virtually anyone in extreme circumstances. When a bank robber waving a shotgun tells customers in the bank to raise their hands, everyone's hands go up. Our experimental strategy was just the opposite. Rather than hitting people over the head with a hammer, we aimed, as it were, to brush against them with a feather. To be able to provoke a reaction with modest experimental "manipulations" points to an underlying sensitivity to issues of national and cultural identity; still more, it points to a capacity to mobilize support for exclusionary reactions to immigrants in the electorate as a whole, not just in the segment already concerned about threats to cultural or national identity.

It is eerie, for us, to write these words. Four years after we did our study, the political landscape in the Netherlands was turned upside down by a charismatic figure campaigning against multiculturalism. Of course, our findings did not "predict" this. But they do point to the "flash" potential of identity politics-the speed with which large numbers can be mobilized in opposition to multiculturalism. There is, we fear, a bitter irony here. Striving in the fashion that political leaders have to spotlight and honor differences in the culture and values of majority and minority, they have evoked the very exclusionary reaction they meant to avoid-and what is more, evoked it from those who otherwise would not have been concerned about differences in identity.

POLITICAL LEADER AND THE ELECTORATE

Citizens only get to choose from the choices offered. Beginning in the 1980s a consensus among political elites developed on multiculturalism-more exactly, a consensus in some countries in Western Europe embedded in a larger antiracism consensus in all. The fact of consensus itself became one more reason for still more consensus. The more who identified racism with opposition to multiculturalism, the fewer who would openly criticize it and the more complete the consensus would appear to be. Periodic examples of public figures whose careers were damaged, or ended, by public statements that were construed as "insensitive" made sure the lesson of political correctness was well learned.

Of course, some disagreed. But it was not necessary to think that encouraging multiculturalism was the right thing to do, only that contesting it was the wrong thing to do. The center-left wanted to promote diversity; the center-right wanted to avoid backlash. So in Great Britain and the Netherlands, the mainstream party of the left sponsored multiculturalism, while the mainstream party of the right acquiesced in it. Together, the programmatic convictions of the one and the principled acquiescence of the other removed the issue of multiculturalism from electoral politics.

This cross-party consensus turned the politics of tolerance upside down. When parties compete, politics operates bottom up with political leaders responding to electoral pressures from below. When they collude, it operates top down with elites in control of the public agenda and thus able to remove some issues from contention. But politicians have means other than agenda control to exert influence. We want to bring to light one of them, not the most important but possibly the most intriguing-namely, conformity pressures. There is, we shall show, a paradox. On the one hand, the more importance that people attach to conformity as a social value, the more likely they are to oppose multiculturalism. On the other hand, the more importance they attach to conformity, the more susceptible they are to social pressure. The result for party leaders on both left and right is the same: that part of their constituency most likely to oppose multiculturalism is the same part whose opposition is most easy to contain.

CONFLICTS OF VALUES

Finally, there is the conflict between Western European and Muslim values. In some ways, it is the most obvious aspect of the current situation; in others, the most elusive: obvious because there is a collision of values; elusive because, for reasons not immediately obvious, this collision of values need not entail conflict.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from When Ways of Life Collide by Paul M. Sniderman Louk Hagendoorn Copyright © 2006 by Princeton University Press . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix
Preface xi
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction 1
CHAPTER TWO: Muslims 17
CHAPTER THREE: Prejudice 43
CHAPTER FOUR: Identity 71
CHAPTER FIVE: Top-Down Politics 100
CHAPTER SIX: Tolerance 123
A Note about the Data 139
Bibliography 141
Index149

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