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Text for an interpretation of the concepts of Feeling at Home and Carrots in the Environmental Vision 2050 of the Municipality of Amsterdam



Socializing newcomers in Amsterdam?


An investigation into the social contacts that newcomers in Amsterdam enter into. Do newcomers in Amsterdam take root and how do they do that?

Do they develop a sense of home and what does that mean for them?



For the social fabric of Amsterdam, the quality of social life in Amsterdam, it is of great importance that at least some of the newcomers in Amsterdam take root, feel at home here and are involved in social life in the city. .

Due to the enormously increased dynamics of settlement and departure of residents, Amsterdam has become “a city of coming and going”. The social character of the city threatens to change from a city of engaged citizens to a city of passers-by.


In recent years, around 50,000 to 80,000 newcomers a year have settled in Amsterdam. This group is very diverse: from students to refugees, from migrant workers and to expats. Many of them settle here – initially – but for a few years.  Partly because of this, about 60-70,000 people now leave the city every year. Also in the corona year 2020 – according to an estimate on November 10, 2020 – about 50-60,000 newcomers will settle in the city; with a departure of approximately the same number.


It is very important for Amsterdam to allow a larger proportion of these newcomers to take root in the city, to develop a feeling of home, and to give them the opportunity to stay in the city.


It is an assumption that many of the newcomers are now not taking root; substructures? Then the question is how much larger the proportion of newcomers should become that takes root here and starts to feel at home.

Or should you offer the people who have been living here for longer (more than 5 years), including the youth of Amsterdam, more opportunities to stay here. And then the fitters should not leave again as soon as possible……….


Not only for the large group of newcomers, but also for all those other city residents and for the task of building a community and mutual involvement with all those residents who stay here longer or shorter.



An investigation into feeling at home and rooting for the newcomers that Amsterdam has received in recent years (largely highly or technically educated, from Western countries, white) is new.


The research into feeling at home in the city has so far focused almost entirely on the "old" migrant groups of Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese and Antilleans, plus the different groups of refugees and the social problems of low education, unemployment, poverty, discrimination, religion, crime, lack of social cohesion, segregation, non-sharing of values and norms, etc.

From the University of Amsterdam, this research was mainly conducted by the Center for Urban Studies, including JW Duyvendak ea: with The Politics of Home . Nostalgia and Belonging in Western Europe and the United States (2011) and The Culturalization of Citizenship, Belonging and Polarization in a Globalizing World (2016).


Almost all secondary sources, from Paul Scheffer's “The Land of Arrival” (2007) to Robert Kloosterman's “Super-diverse migrants - Ghanaian entrepreneurship in the Netherlands” (2016) deal with low-skilled labor migrants and refugees and their families/ next generations who stay here and have a hard time in many ways.

The current newcomers, for the most part highly skilled migrants, labor migrants, students, artists, creatives and expats: so-called “transnational migrants”, will or will not take root and feel at home in a different way.


By gaining more insight into this through this research, both Amsterdam society and the local government can focus more consciously on allowing (some of) these new residents to take root.


Transnational migrant and cosmopolitan

A transnational migrant is a migrant who remains (largely) connected with the country of origin.

Digital communication and cheap travel make it possible to maintain intensive ties with the home country. In addition, if people from the country of origin are dealt with wholly or mainly in the country of arrival and elsewhere, ties with the country of arrival or city will become more difficult. Which doesn't have to say much about feeling at home and taking root.


Unlike the transnational migrant, the cosmopolitan (see, among others, Paul Scheffer and ) has no primary bond with the country of origin, but feels connected to the world and can feel at home in different countries


Many of the recent newcomers to Amsterdam are transnational migrants and cosmopolitans. In which the knowledge migrants and expats can rather be labeled as transnational migrants under the cosmopolitan category and the labor migrants. With the foreign students in between, because the distinction will not be that sharp in practice.

Most of them will settle here temporarily (of their own free will or forced by rules, laws and possibilities) and for that reason alone continue to maintain close ties with the 'homeland'. But Will they and can stay; which part wants to stay but cannot; can and will they take root?


The question to be examined is then what kind of social contacts they enter into in Amsterdam; to what extent they build up a social network and social life in Amsterdam and whether a form of rooting and feeling at home is being built there.


Environmental vision 2050 and rooted urbanity


The city council of Amsterdam is looking for new ways to shape and safeguard residents' participation in city life, both politically and socially. Super diversity and mobility of its residents is a given.

The participation policy includes concepts such as urban development, co-creation, cooperatives, collectives, citizens' initiatives, diversity and inclusiveness


Also in the environmental vision 2050 (draft at the end of 2020) in B&W; decision-making by the municipal council before the summer of 2021) the meaning of participation and the involvement of citizens in the city will be given an important place.

One of the four spearheads is Rooted Urbanity : how can Amsterdammers take root in the city in times of comings & goings, uncertainty, temporary living and temporary work. How do they bond with each other and with the city; what new types of ties could these be and how could they be strengthened.

Themes here are:

How can the T home feeling to be increased in the City ( "sense of belonging") and what obstacles should be addressed before?

Making an Open City : what role can newcomers play in this; how to prevent this from leading to greater inequality of opportunity.


In this research, the focus is on the first questions:

“how does a newcomer in the city feel, what kind of social contacts does he have;  how does he develop a feeling of home, a sense of belonging.

As a further exploration, we believe that this study fits in well with the questions and themes of the Environmental Vision as mentioned above.  



Initially, we only want to investigate foreign establishments.


Based on source research, interviews and statistical material, we will conduct a context analysis of the recent foreign settlers in Amsterdam and their position, especially in the labor market, the housing market and financially.


Within the foreign establishments we distinguish the following groups based on their financial economic position:

  • students

  • Expats and green card highly skilled migrants

  • Higher and technically educated migrant workers

  • Creatives, artists and other liberal professions, low or insecure income

  • Status holders (refugees cannot register)

(family reunification, family formation and other personally motivated settlers are included in the statistical overviews; it is not yet clear how to include this group further)


Sharp criticism of this practice of categorization (“categorization”) in the book City of Comings an Goings (Rotterdam 2019) because “in this way the groups are kept separate instead of mixing”. As a result, “common action is prevented and clear agreements and shared opportunities are not seen.”

The City Life Amsterdam approach, where newcomers from different backgrounds meet and get to know the city – and each other – is a good answer to this.


By nationality


Matrix of nationality and 'position' in figures for intake 2015-2020



With regard to the outcome of our research, in particular the outcome of the questionnaire and the participatory  research:

Degree of social contacts,

Character of social contacts,

Building social network,


Home feeling



First to “facts”

Feelings (feeling at home), intentions (“back in 4 years”) and expectations (here I find the love of my life) in the second instance


Methods :

  1. Participation in associations/networks of socializing
    Qualitative Outcome and Analysis

  2. Survey - Questionnairy : send to Max
    Quantitative outcome and analysis

  3. interviews
    Qualitative Outcome and Analysis


Confronting Outcomes and Assumptions


Conclusions and recommendations

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