It Takes Two to Tango: Dutch Majority Group Evaluations of Muslim Political Acculturation

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 1:18 PM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Paul HINDRIKS , Migration and Ethnic Relations, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
Explanations of the degree to which ethnic minorities are included in a national political system typically concern either the institutional build-up of a nation (e.g. electoral systems, seats in parliament reserved for ethnic minorities), or characteristics of individual minority members (e.g. gender, education, social capital, political orientation). While these explanations are very valuable, they ignore the pivotal role played by the ethnic majority group. After all, minority groups and their individual members become politically active in the face of constraints presented by the political system – a system that is shaped by the rule of the dominant majority group. In other words: it takes two to tango. Drawing from Berry’s seminal work on cultural acculturation (Berry, 1997), we formulated different ways in which minority members can acculturate politically (e.g. integrate, assimilate, or separate). Employing representative samples of Dutch majority members (N=802 and N=928) we then conducted two vignette studies in which Muslims, the most prominent minority group in the Netherlands, were the target group. In addition, we considered the roles of perceived threat and perceived political unreliability. The results showed that minority groups’ acculturation strategy indeed affects majority group’s attitudes. Furthermore, evaluations of Muslim political participation are contingent on the level of perceived threat and political unreliability. The results are, however, not in line with expectations one would derive from cultural acculturation, indicating that the struggle for minority representation in the political domain might differ in important ways from everyday ethnic relations.