Why the Dutch word ‘allochtoon’ should be abandoned

Both the Dutch Minister of Justice, Ernst Hirsch Ballin and the Minister for Housing and Integration, Ella Vogelaar, have breathed new life into the debate around the problems generated by the peculiar Dutch terminology around migrants – the distinction between ‘allochtoon‘ and ‘autochtoon‘ Dutch citizens.

Officially, according to the CBS, you’re either if you’re born outside the Netherlands, or have at least one parent born outside the country. However, the everyday usage of the term allochtoon tends to stretch to anyone with a non-Western background, giving it more of a racial effect, raising the bar to ever becoming autochtoon, or ‘native’, and reinforcing the ‘natives’ capacity to control who does or does not get recognized as genuine ‘insider’. Paul Scheffer observes the problems associated with this terminology, and although he has used the term allochtoon in the past, he now steadfastly avoids it, using terms such as ‘migrants and their children’ in its place. However, there has been only limited public debate about the question, and when it is raised, there is a tendency for commentators to pour scorn on the idea of changing the terminology by trivializing it, or by arguing that language has its own autonomous dynamics in any case.

As my own modest contribution to the debate, I thought I’d post a fragment from a longer piece that I’m writing which deals with the question: Continue reading Why the Dutch word ‘allochtoon’ should be abandoned

Council of the European Union – Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy


The explanations provided are intended to give direction to the common basic principle. The description is indicative, by no means exhaustive and will be further developed in the future.

1. Integration is a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of Member States.
Integration is a dynamic, long-term, and continuous two-way process of mutual accommodation, not a static outcome. It demands the participation not only of immigrants and their descendants but of every resident. The integration process involves adaptation by immigrants, both men and women, who all have rights and responsibilities in relation to their new country of residence. It also involves the receiving society, which should create the opportunities for the immigrants’ full economic, social, cultural, and political participation. Accordingly, Member States are encouraged to consider and involve both immigrants and national citizens in integration policy, and to communicate clearly their mutual rights and responsibilities. Continue reading Council of the European Union — Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy

Frits Bolkestein’s comments on immigration in the Netherlands, in 1991

In 1991 Frits Bolkestein, then leader of the Dutch VVD party, made a speech to the Liberal International Conference in Luzern, titled ‘On the collapse of the Soviet Union’, which included comments on immigration and Islam in the Netherlands:

“The unsettled situation in Eastern Europe ripples over into Western Europe. Germany in particular has taken in a vast number of refugees from the East. The pressure in The Netherlands from people who want to settle there is also growing inexorably. Continue reading Frits Bolkestein’s comments on immigration in the Netherlands, in 1991

The legal regulation of family life and the global civilization of divorce

Paper Prepared for:
Civilizing Children and Youth: Missions and Sites of Transformation

Research workshop to be held in Copenhagen at the Danish University of Education Organizers: Eva Gulløv and Sally Anderson (Danish University of Education) June 4-5, 2007


Over the last half-century, high divorce rates in advanced industrial nations have been accompanied by a growing body of research on the impactof parental separation on children and their capacity to take their places as appropriately-formed and governable citizens. In that period, a paradigm shift has taken place in the way in which parent-child relations should be seen as surviving parental separation, from a ‘logic of substitution’, where a new family substitutes for the old, to a ‘logic of durability’, organized around the idea of ‘permanent parenthood’ and the child’s continuing relations with both parents. This paper will examine the ways in which the legal construction of post-separation child custody has played a leading role in this particular civilizing mission aimed not only at the children of divorcing couples, but also at the parents themselves. It will take a brief look at the similarities and differences in this area across a number of different legal cultures, including Australia, Germany and the Netherlands. Conceptually, drawing on Norbert Elias’s ‘The civilizing of parents’, the concern will be to illustrate the two-way or spiral-like character of civilizing process, with children constituted not simply as the objects of civilizing missions, but also as a means of transmission of their effects through to the wider network of adults of which they are a part. Continue reading The legal regulation of family life and the global civilization of divorce

Rethinking/Reassembling Civilization: State-formation, Subjectivity, Security, Power

Notes for a Seminar presentation in the Department of Sociology, Flinder University, 27 April 2007

22 June 1798, Napoleon’s speech to his soldiers en route to Egypt

“Soldiers! You are undertaking a conquest with incalculable consequences for civilization and world trade. You will inflict a decisive and significant blow on England….”

11 Sept 2006, President Bush’s Address to the Nation:

“This struggle has been called a clash of civilizations. In truth, it is a struggle for civilization. We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations. And we’re fighting for the possibility that good and decent people across the Middle East can raise up societies based on freedom and tolerance and personal dignity.”


The organization of power and subjectivity in social movements

Contribution to the ‘Class, Organizations and Social Movements’ Rountable, Brazilian Sociology Conference, Recife, 31 May 2007.

The analysis of social movements is a significant concern for the sociology of organizations, in two senses. First and most obviously, the different examples of organized collective action are in themselves important for sociologists of organization to understand, if only as particular organizational forms raising a range of conceptual and empirical questions. Secondly and less obviously, the analysis of the organizational logic of social movements can also tell us a lot about those other, more formal, types of organizations which may appear to obey different sets of rules, but which often contain a variety of organizational sensibilities which blur the boundaries between formal, institutionalized organizations and the differently structured character of social movements. This is especially the case in relation to what has been called the ‘network society’. Continue reading The organization of power and subjectivity in social movements

Crime and Social Theory


This is a draft of a chapter for The Critical Criminology Companion, edited by Thalia Anthony and Chris Cuneen, Sydney: Hawkins Press.

In his foreword to one of the books that launched critical criminology, The New Criminology, Gouldner (1973: ix) observed that the book’s ‘reorienting power’ was not just that it drew on bodies of social theory otherwise neglected in criminology, or theorizations of crime overlooked in social theory. What made it important was ‘its ability to demonstrate that all studies of crime and deviance, however deeply entrenched in their own technical traditions, are inevitably also grounded in larger, more general social theories which are always present (and consequential) even as unspoken silences’. Continue reading Crime and Social Theory