TRS.20.010 – Dilemmas of diversity: policies and practices in Dutch communities

Route: Towards resilient societies

Cluster question: 047 How can we promote social cohesion in a society that is culturally and religiously diverse?

Over the past seventy years, The Netherlands has adopted various policies addressing diversity in different ways and implemented at different government levels. Ethnicity- or migration-focused policies of the past have largely been abandoned in favour of ‘mainstreaming’ and a consideration of multiple, intersecting forms of difference such as class, gender, race, nationality, sexuality and ability. Amidst new policy directives and societal changes, local actors are more than ever faced with a challenge of how to ‘do’ diversity in practice. Following an intersectional approach, this project proposes empirical, interdisciplinary research evaluating past and current policy approaches and dilemmas of diversity in local practice. The research will address: How do different service providers in Dutch communities interpret, implement or negotiate diversity policies on paper and how do these practices meet the needs of diverse recipients? Attention to local practices of diversity policy holds potentially valuable lessons for the future, such as how to address implementation challenges, thus contributing to greater inclusiveness of Dutch society. A look into the past shows that while some elements of diversity are new, local actors have always needed to cope with bureaucracies and policies which prioritized some groups over others and were difficult to implement. We can learn important lessons from analysing how dilemmas of local practice were resolved in the past and what were their societal effects. Additionally, the project uses participatory methods which will include recipients and practitioners in the co-development of knowledge-based guidelines and practical tools for greater community engagement in the domains of care and welfare, housing associations, community centres, and cultural and sports organizations. More broadly, the project aims to support service providers by making it feasible to cater to diverse needs and identities, and, consequently, achieve greater well-being and satisfaction of a diverse population.


Diversity, Governance, implementation, inclusion, intersectionality, policy dilemmas, practices, public policy

Other organisations

Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)


Organisation University of Leiden (LEI), History Department
Name Prof. dr. M.L.J.C. (Marlou) Schrover