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Research Social Networks Newcomers Amsterdam


Should I stay or should I go – The Clash



Feeling at home in the city Sense of Belonging -  Rooting Urban Roots


Feeling a stranger - footloose - no connection with the city



  1. The influx of foreign newcomers into Amsterdam (2019: 50,000 of the 70,000 newcomers) consists for the most part of "passers-by", ie temporary settlers. This is causing major change in social life in Amsterdam

  2. Newcomers can only settle permanently in Amsterdam if they have a lot of money or a lot of luck; the majority of newcomers (students, artists, labor migrants) can only settle here temporarily.

  3. The city works like a sorting machine, where only those who are very successful (according to certain criteria) can stay.

  4. For a strong and sustainable social life in Amsterdam (“urban roots”), more newcomers must be willing and able to settle permanently


Urban Renaissance

Geographical literature of the 1960s and 1970s: the end of the city: New York bankrupt and Amsterdam emptied and collapsed.

About companies that are increasingly becoming ' footloose ' as a result of internationalization: moving companies from Western Europe and North America to low-wage countries, etc. . The city's economic base disappears; what could the economic basis of the Netherlands and Amsterdam still be?

To the amazement of many, globalization and digitization after the 1980s resulted in many large cities once again becoming the hub of the international economy.  After the city's decline in the 1970s, it is now the city's triumph in the 21st century. A certain type of international (transnational) companies now prefer to settle in a Global City.


Amsterdam Global City

From the 1990s, Amsterdam has “worked up” in a few rounds to the lower regions of the Global Cities. With a (large) number of transnational companies and sectors that are part of the global economy. An additional characteristic is the international financing capital (from Blackstone to investment funds from Singapore) that settles in the city: from land positions, financing of area development, buying up parts of the housing market to acquiring distribution hubs.


Major consequences for social life in Global City Amsterdam.

The transnational companies in Amsterdam, from to TomTom, Adyen, international law firms, Guerilla Games, Uber, etc. have a workforce that mainly consists of foreigners/foreign migrant workers.

These employees are highly 'footloose', both in the higher echelons, the expats who move to a different city every 2 years, (according to the literature and real estate agents)

as in the lower regions of the company, where young talent from all over the world is only contracted for a few years. (partly due to legal regulations for migrants from outside the EU, partly for business reasons)



These world citizens – “cosmopolitans who always have one foot abroad and do not want to commit themselves to the city” do not build 'urban' social contacts here, do not want to take root here.

And foreign students? Those who do not establish 'urban' social contacts here either do not want to take root here.

Is that right? To what extent is that the case? Do they want to root, but can't/doesn't?

We want to investigate that.

Numerically and with a survey ism  OiS; through participatory research at City Life and other social meeting initiatives for newcomers; through conversations with key figures and source research


And also, what can you as a city do about it? Can you bind these citizens more to the city; give a feeling of home; provide more opportunities to take root?



It also applies to students from the Netherlands and the youth of Amsterdam that when they have graduated or are slightly older (27 years is the limit for temporary rental contracts), they can hardly or not settle here permanently.


Sources Writers Researchers  Literature

1. Floor Milikowski – Whose City 2018


Clash over the city:

Amsterdam as a city for the newcomers , especially rich and young foreigners; they bring the dynamics, are the engine of the (new) economy; ensure the connection with the world; give Amsterdam the character of a “global city”; internationals, tolerant, open. The city for everyone


Amsterdam must protect its population , people must be able to stay in the city, be able to take root, community, be safe, be able to grow in the city. The city is locked for low and middle incomes and if they live in the city they are in danger of being displaced. The scarcity should not be distributed by “the market” but by the government; will hurt too.


The first vision is dominant and provides a lot of dynamics, but also increasing segregation and a wider gap between rich and poor


2. Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

Applicable quotes from the novel Grand Hotel Europa (2018)


About “rooting in the city”


They consider their own sensation of freedom more important than living in connection with their loved ones in their environment (p. 232)


Responsibility for the place where they are rooted (232)


Addiction to displacement (232-233)


Internationalization hijacked by big capital and has become conservative (258)


Children raised without roots (267-268)

Indifferent superficiality and the experience of displacement (268)

Self-declared citizens of the world (268)


Because roots are more important than destinations (536)


Amsterdam Airport (316-317) (City of very short comings and goings – jd)


3. Transnational elites in the city: British highly-skilled inter-company transferees in New York City's financial district

Jonathan V. Beaverstock in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 31 (2005)



4. The Social Morphology of Skilled Migration: The Case of the British Middle Class in Paris

Dr Sam Scott In Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 2006



5. Binding enough; the city and the secret of pleasant coexistence”

Essay by Annemarie Kok, Trancity*Valiz 2017



6. A City of Comings and Goings

By: Crimson, historians & Urbanists

nai010 publishers Rotterdam 2019



7. Arnold Grunberg

Series European in New York (VPRO TV  2020 broadcast 5-10-2020)

For Grunberg, New York is a City of Strangers



8. David Goodhart

The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics – 2017


In 2017, this British journalist-writer wrote the book “The Road to Somewhere” in response to the Brexit outcome, with the distinction between 'anywheres' and 'somewheres', in other words the elite who feel at home everywhere and the people who are bound to place. (NRC 9-10-20 Floor Rusman)

Goodhart insists that the views of Somewheres have been overlooked for decades, overruled by the Anywheres who control the commanding heights of political and cultural power, from the ...  (the Guardian 22-03-2017)

Goodhart reiterates the point made by Putnam, Murray and others about the family: high status (and income) Anywheres “talk blue, but live red,” while lower status (and income) Somewheres “talk red, but live blue.” (Put differently, Anywheres insist that all family forms are equally valid for raising children, but in practice they generally prefer two married parents who stay together ... ( anywheres_and_somewheres David Goodhart grapples admirably with the disconnect between the university educated elite (the Anywheres ) who dominate public life, and the local rooted majority (the Somewheres ). As a church minister, I was particularly struck by the disconnect between (often) highly educated ministers, and the need to serve in areas which will not share many of our cultural assumptions.



9. Paula Quibbler –

The art of being a foreigner in Amsterdam – BIS Publishers 2007

Publishers note: On commission from the Baak Management Centrum VNO-NCW she investigated the diversity within Amsterdam's creative sector, interviewing seventeen colorful personalities on their views and experiences in relation to living and working in Holland's major city.

The result is a current social picture of the possibilities and the bottlenecks that these people encountered. Foreign pioneers, bicultural talents, creative entrepreneurs and the makers of cultural policy all have something to gain from this book.



10. Parool 13-01-2018, by Vera Spaans

'You will never, ever feel at home here'

headline above article in the context of the Parool series Amsterdam Expat City

Intro: Techstad Amsterdam is bursting at the seams. There is plenty of work for international talent; as long as everything is going well, the city is at your feet. Part 2 of a series: “there are always moments in the life of an expat when you realize what you are missing”



11. Large number of articles from magazines, blogs and other media

At home in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a lot to offer me.; besides work, especially catering, friends, bicycles and facilities.

Accessibility with regard to housing is problematic

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