Us and Them: Experiences with Polarization Dynamics from the Perspective of Black Migrant Communities in The Netherlands

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This study focuses on perspectives of citizens with Surinamese, Caribbean and African backgrounds on polarization dynamics in the Netherlands and how these dynamics affect their identity construction. The results indicate that within these communities an increased polarization is experienced between so-called ‘non-western migrants’ and so-called ‘natives’ in the Netherlands. An othering discourse that increasingly problematizes the presence and position of ‘non-western migrants’, plays a central role in this polarization. On the other hand, the advancement of a counter discourse is identified, that is related to a movement of emancipation of black citizens. Both discourses affect the possibilities at hand for identification of individual members of Surinamese, Caribbean and African communities. Dichotomization of identity categories is exercised both from within their community and from outside. Their ability to identify with the imagined national community is restrained as well as their ability to attain full citizenship. As a result, respondents generally observe an increased focus on subgroups amongst their communities. At the same time, respondents describe an in-between identity, occupied by some members that manage to escape these dichotomous notions of identity. Under increased pressure of polarization, space for these in-between identities is however declining.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen