Negotiating identities, Syrian muslim status holders & the Dutch civic integration program

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This thesis explores the themes and concepts of Identity, Integration, Culture, and the Other. It specifically focuses on the identity of Syrian Muslim status holders in the Netherlands during the time they are following the civic integration program. The main research question is: How do the Dutch discourses around integration present in the civic integration policy and program affect the identity of Syrian Muslim refugees? My research objective is to add to the understanding of how the Dutch discourses around integration affect refugees on the most personal level: their identity. The research took place in collaboration with the civic integration school Nederlands de Baas. The research relied on an interpretative research philosophy, and aimed to be exploratory through an inductive research type. The research strategy consisted of ethnographic research in which the data was collected through participant observation, observations, grand- and mini-tours and interviews with status holders. The results show the ideas of Modernity & Islam, and of Migration & Control permeate through every layer of the civic integration program and identity formation. The results show how the culturalisation of integration influenced the integration program in such a way that a generalized, homogenous Dutch culture is represented and taught. The program showed signs of essentialism, a restrictive approach to status holders and actively constructed the idea of ‘the Other’. The program also helped create a sense of community and multiculturalism. Regionalism was mostly active around the structure of the integration policy, localism was very important, where municipalities are now responsible for the integration. Regionalism did not extend to the classrooms, as there was little attention to the local differences within the Netherlands, and a homogenous, static Dutch culture was mostly represented. Finally, the results show the diverse negotiations the status holders have with important identity categories such as nationality, religion, work/career, loneliness and future. It showed how the identity of status holders are often wrapped up in their future selves. But Mainly the results showed the resilience and agency of the status holders in using the civic integration program as a tool to further their sense of identity.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen