Without any doubt, immigration and its consequences has become one of the most salient social problems over the last few decades. Whereas migration to the Netherlands in the 1950s boomed in response to an increasing demand in labor force to contribute to the generation of wealth in a post-war era, at present pessimist voices that debate the economic as well as cultural costs of immigration seem to dominate public discourse. At the same time, a non-negligible share of the literature juxtaposes such positions and considers immigration as beneficial for advanced industrialized societies. Many positions and opinions on immigration and how it shapes Western societies are not always well-informed, neglecting a spate of recent studies that document in a nuanced manner the costs as well as the benefits of migration for Western societies. The aim of this course is to debunk some popular ideas about migration by critically reviewing scientific evidence of how immigration affects Western societies. The study is designed around approximately ten leading questions that dominate not only public discourse, but also social science research. Combined, they allow you to obtain a critical view on migration and its consequences. At the end of this course, you are able (1) to discuss whether and why immigration is a social problem, (2) to explain what drives migration to Western societies, (3) to understand the origins of prejudice towards immigrants, (4) to explain the mechanisms underlying the integration of immigrants, and (5) explain how immigration affects social cohesion.|
Skepticism about migration to Western societies is repeatedly expressed in public debates. Quite recently, during his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump defended building a wall between Mexico and the United States, tried to push a ban on Muslim migration, and argued that illegal immigrants are an economical cost and make up most of the criminal gangs. Across Western Europe, the asylum crisis, mostly spurred by atrocities in the Middle East, pushed the limits of solidarity to political refugees. In tandem, the terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Berlin, all linked to Islamic State, seemed to have increased negative sentiments towards immigrants. Not only in public debates, but also among social scientists, vivid debates take place about whether migration lowers the social fabric. For instance, Harvard professor Robert Putnam (2007, p. 142) recently argued that “diversity, at least in the short run, seems to bring out the turtle in all of us.” Yet, empirical findings for Europe don’t always catch up to the American findings.|
The aim of this course is to discuss the nuanced way of how immigration affects advanced industrialized societies. To do so, the weekly sessions are organized around particular questions that are widely spread among public opinion but simultaneously are the starting points of lively academic debates. These questions boil down into four major streams: (1) The determinants of migration to Western societies; (2) Prejudice towards immigrants; (3) The incorporation of immigrants; (4) The effects of immigration on social cohesion indicators. Precise topics will be announced at the beginning of the course. The course will be commenced by an introductory session on how to conceive of social cohesion in diverse societies, and a closing session on policies and its effects to wrap up the course.
Type of instructions
Type of exams
Paper (40%), portfolio (40%), presentation (20%)
A series of research articles and chapters from books will be made available at the beginning of the course (cf. syllabus).