Like other West European countries, the Netherlands are facing a growing uneasiness about its changing demographics. It is within this context that animated discussions concerning immigrant neighbourhoods dominate. The general opinion is that living in such neighbourhoods hinders the 'integration' of immigrants into Dutch society. This book contributes to the academic and policy debate by not only examining the effects of ethnic concentration, but also by finding out how people are sorted into neighbourhoods. Bringing together different bodies of literature, this book offers a more holistic view of the creation of ethnic residential segregation and its potential significance for individual life chances.
The seeds of this book were sown in 2003. At that time, the ISEO Research Institute, where I worked after my study Sociology in Rotterdam, was assigned a project by the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM). The aim of the project was to study the relationship between ethnic concentration and the extent to which immigrants and their descendents ‘integrate’ into Dutch society. Under the supervision of Justus Veenman, this project resulted in the publication of a Dutch book De Buurt als belemmering? [The neighbourhood as an obstacle?] (Van der Laan Bouma-Doff, 2005). At OTB Research Institute for the Built Environment, located at Delft University of Technology, I was given the opportunity to continue and expand my study on ‘neighbourhood effects’, and to write my PhD thesis. Not by means of one specific research project, but through working at several relevant studies on housing choice and the social implications of urban restructuring, supported by the Dutch government through the Habiforum Program Innovative Land Use and Delft University of Technology through the Delft Centre for Sustainable Urban Areas. These studies were essential in writing this thesis. Actually, while working on these projects, my approach to studying neighbourhood effects changed. It appeared to me that the ways how people choose their dwelling and neighbourhood is one of the missing pieces in puzzling out the causes and consequences of residential segregation. My goal was therefore to link the two bodies of literature (residential choice/mobility and neighbourhood effects), and I hope that the final product will demonstrate the importance of this approach.
In the last five years I have enjoyed working on the research articles that now constitute the main body of this thesis. Three articles were published under my former name Van der Laan Bouma-Doff, the others will be published under my maiden name Doff. As Brederode said, 't Kan verkeren. Acknowledgements for the articles are given in the separate chapters, but at this point I want to thank the following people.
I thank my promotoren Peter Boelhouwer (Delft University of Technology), Sako Musterd (University of Amsterdam) and George Galster (Wayne State University, Detroit) for their guidance and their confidence that I could finish this book. I am grateful to my current and former colleagues from the Department of Urban Renewal and Housing for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of the articles of my thesis: Alex Curley, André Ouwehand, Anirban Pal, Carlinde Adriaanse, Christien Klaufus, Eva Bosch, Frank Wassenberg, Gelske van Daalen, Gwen van Eijk, Helen Kruythoff, Leeke Reinders, Marco van der Land, Mariska van der Sluis-van Meijeren, Reinout Kleinhans, Saskia Binken, Suzanne Davis, Talja Blokland and Ton van der Pennen. I enjoy(ed) working with you, benefit from our Brown Bag seminars discussing books and articles, but particularly love the social activities, among which drinking a beer or two, going to concerts and obscure IFFR-movies, and playing soccer. Thanks in particular to Marco for the daily guidance and fruitful discussions about the thesis, Reinout for co-authoring one of the articles and Gwen for reading and extensively commenting on the conclusion chapter. Thanks to Dirk Dubbeling and Itziar Lasa Epelde for their efforts in publishing the manuscript alongside many others.
I am indebted to many colleagues in the field of urban studies who I met on conferences, other meetings and on the Internet: thanks for reading and commenting on my draft papers, exchanging work and ideas, and having fruitful discussions on various themes, in particular the causes and consequences of spatial segregation. I am in particular grateful for meeting George Galster on the UAA conference in 2007. From the start, he not only offered me intellectual guidance and moral support, but also true friendship. Thank you for everything, George.
Thanks to my friends Annelous Meij and Michiel Pat, both fellow students when studying Sociology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, for being my paranymphs. Annelous, my ‘old’ friend (since the fourth grade of primary school!), thanks for your love and support in all these years. Lastly, to my parents Hans and Paulie, my sister Tjarda, my little niece Luna and my big niece Rivka: thanks for your advice, guidance, support, and unconditional love in all the years I am.
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