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People without a migration background as an ethnic minority

26 September 2022
More than 50 per cent of the people living in numerous bigger Western European cities, like Amsterdam, have a migration background. For her dissertation, sociologist Lisa-Marie Kraus researched how people without a migration background react to being a numerical minority.

For decades researchers have studied how people with a migration background integrate into ethnic majority societies. Now that ethnic majorities have become local numerical minorities, this dissertation flips the question: how do people without a migration background integrate into local societies where people with a migration background are the majority, and why do variations in integration outcomes emerge? 

Kraus explains: “The reactions of people without a migration background are more complex than previously assumed and they go beyond merely polarised, mainly negative, reactions. The responses vary depending on the socio-economic background, previous experience with ethnic or social class diversity and feeling of belonging in particular minority contexts.” 

“Further, the integration into contexts in which people without a migration background are a minority does not happen without further effort. The employment of social strategies is necessary to become an integrated insider in spaces in which people without a migration background are a numerical ethnic minority. For example, in minority situations, people without a migration background would downplay social status whilst trying to communicate a pleasant interpersonal stance.” 

“The implications of the results are two-fold. Firstly, some people without a migration background are better equipped to integrate into diverse contexts than others, but ‘doing’ ethnic diversity can be ‘learnt’. Secondly, existing theories on integration which had as their focus people with a migration background are insufficient to understand the particular social positions of people without a migration background in such cities.” 

“The findings of this dissertation can, for instance, help neighbourhood organisations and associations with setting up inclusive neighbourhood events.”