Cultural Research Proposal

Title: Acculturation of Turkish Population Living in the Netherlands



During 1960s West European countries like Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands experienced an influx of immigrant workers, high percentage of which was from rural Turkey. An inevitable result of this migration of peoples from a completely different cultural, educational and religious background was a need for acculturation between the host majority and temporary or permanent “visitors”. The host majority expected the visitors to assimilate and adapt as quickly as possible to the culture and lifestyle of the host country. On the contrary, immigrants insisted on maintaining their values and style of life including their religious practices. Through the passage of time a natural process of acculturation has been expected to occur where both the host and the visiting societies modify some aspects of their respective culture as a way of adapting to cultural diversity. However, this process has been long and painstaking for the immigrants who feel overwhelmed by the strong cultural pressure from the host country and fear of losing their national identity.



With the changing economy and structure of nations, migration has always taken place from usually rural and developing countries to more industrialized nations. This phenomenon brings along problems related to socio-economical and cultural issues. As a result, much research is being conducted to measure the effects of the cross-cultural relations between the host and migrant societies. Berry (2001) has developed a structure for studying immigration which enables comparisons between views of migrant and majority group members. This structure explains the three different components of immigration studies: contextual, psychological, and policy. The psychological component of immigration deals with two central attitudes: the acculturation attitudes of the immigrants and the multicultural ideology of the host society. Acculturation was defined as the process of bidirectional change that occurs when two ethno-cultural groups come in sustained contact with each other (Redfield, Linton, & Herskovits, 1936). This leads to the immigrant and host communities to be influenced and transformed by their intercultural contact. Both the host and immigrant communities are expected to alter some aspects of their respective culture as a way of adapting to cultural diversity (Berry, 2006).

The host society puts a barrier between themselves and the immigrant community by creating an “us-them” categorization which implies that immigrants are viewed as out-groups who may be temporary “visitors”. The host, or the receiving, society tends to accept the immigrants more easily when the cultural differences are boiled down to differences in food, music and dance. However, immigrants bring along their own cultures and want to keep and, at the same time, declare their characteristic culture which includes their traditions, clothes, language and religion. When the immigrants insist on keeping their language and culture, and also demand equal rights concerning employment and housing, the host majority shows reaction and conflicts arise. The host majority act so with the fear of their national identity being threatened. Given such fears and conflicts, the host country tends to make more strict laws concerning immigration and tends to take action to prevent unemployment and competition caused by immigrants who work for lower salaries than locals. Host societies want precautions to be taken with high crime rates associated with immigrant neighborhoods, hate crimes against immigrants, demonstrations denouncing racism against immigrants, and/or terrorist attacks against host-society civilians (Bourhis et al., 2010). The concept of acculturation frames the interactions between the host and immigrant communities. It points out that through the passage of time, both the immigrant and host communities, gradually, as a result of their cultural interaction influence each other which lead to modifying their own culture and adapting to the cultural diversity.

However, it is the immigrant community that is more likely to transform given that they are the minority group. The dominant host community tends to reject the culture of the vulnerable immigrants. “Bidimensional” model was proposed by Berry (1997) as “unidimensional” model was criticized. Bidimensional means the immigrants maintain their cultural heritage and values while at the same time adapt to the way of life of the host community. Host community members start getting their initial acculturation experience either through direct interpersonal contacts with immigrants at school and work or through indirect contacts through the written and electronic media. The dominant host society may react to acculturation by taking one of the five courses of action: integrationism, assimilationism, segregationism, exclusionism, and individualism. Integrationism where the host community expects the immigrants to the main cultural features of the host community while maintaining some parts of their heritage. Assimilationism is where the immigrants are forced to change their way of life and values completely including their names and religion, and totally rejecting their original language. Segregationism is the attitude where the host community expects the immigrants to maintain their heritage but at the same time, to stay clear of the host community and not contaminate their values and culture. Segregationism leads to forced formation of enclaves which the host community endorses. Exclusionism is where the host community definitely rejects the values or culture of the immigrants to be implemented into the culture of the host community while at the same time denies the immigrants to maintain their social values and heritage. Individualism is where the host community treats the immigrants society as individuals rather than creating labels to identify them.

Within the last 50 years, the Netherlands has been exposed to migration from former Dutch colonies, Southern Europe, Turkey and Morocco as foreign laborers and more recently as refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and northern Africa. This migrant population now constitutes 17% of the total population of the Netherlands. Another shocking finding is that three of the largest Dutch cities have 50% of their population formed by non-natives. Managing the intercultural relations between the Dutch people and the migrants has become the number one issue on the agenda of Dutch politicians and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). The Dutch government has displayed a multicultural approach to maintain its tolerant relations with the migrant communities (Baubock, Heller, & Zolberg, 1996). Integration has been successfully adopted by the Dutch government and society enabling the immigrants to have equal access to all institutions; participate and benefit from the services provided while maintaining their original values and culture on a private scale. The government, which by constitution is obliged to treat all groups alike, does not interfere in this process of cultural maintenance. Despite the Dutch government policy of multiculturalism, intolerance and prejudice of native Dutch toward migrants has become a more serious problem in recent years (Vermeulen &Penninx, 2000).

Studies have shown that Turkish immigrants living in the Netherlands are in favor of multiculturalism. Turks prefer integration in public affairs but prefer separation in private matters such as language, religious practices and cultural traditions. Turkish immigrant community strongly support maintaining their cultural heritage and adapting to the host cultures in public matters rather than private. This bidimensional attitude is different from the Dutch community’s unidimensional attitude, and this suggests that the underlying psychological processes of acculturation and multiculturalism are different for majority and minority group members. For the minorities, cultural maintenance is important for psychological and social reasons while at the same time cultural adaptation to the majority culture is also important to acquire a position in the society (Taylor & Moghaddam, 1994).

For the Turkish immigrants, their private domain is part of a completely different social and cultural system, which significantly differs from the main society. As a result, Turkish immigrants want to maintain their values without adaptation to the mainstream society. Adaptation in the public domain, however, is important for the immigrant community because they want equal rights concerning opportunities offered by the host society.

Dutch natives perceive equal opportunities of Turkish migrants in the society, while they think that cultural diversity is not favorable to the society at large. The Turkish migrant group, on the other hand, has adopted the main preconditions of multiculturalism (i.e. accepting and supporting cultural diversity, participating in the larger society, and perceiving equal life opportunities), and their views reflect a more genuine multicultural perspective. Generation level of minorities can have an important influence on attitudes toward acculturation.

Stephenson (2000) argues that significant difference in loss of cultural maintenance occurs between the second and third generations. Because the Netherlands is a ‘young’ migration country, views on acculturation can only be measured among the first and second generations. Cultural differences and differences in views will be smaller with generations, but do not necessarily disappear. This study aims to find answer to the research question:


  1. How has the acculturation process taken course among the third generation Turkish immigrants living in the Netherlands?

The natural process of acculturation has its inevitable effects both on the Dutch culture and Turkish-Dutch culture since the host majority of The Netherlands and immigrant Turks has different cultural backgrounds. The cultural diversity in The Netherlands allows a variety of research on immigration and changing habits of the immigrants. It can be clearly observed that the host majority of Dutch and the permanent ‘visitors’ has different psychological contexts. Therefore, the multiculturalism research can be applied through the observable behaviors and personal thoughts of both cultures. The main question is to find out the way the direction acculturation has taken course among the third generation Turkish-Dutch immigrants. The availability of context shows that it is reasonable to make survey to Turkish-Dutch people as they have a great proportion than many other minority groups living in The Netherlands. Furthermore, the opportunity of analyzing the large size Turkish- Dutch group in The Netherlands and their position as a low status culture in the eyes of Dutch culture permits the study to work well.

In order to reach beneficial and rational results, the participant group must be chosen carefully. The central question here is that, how the third generation of Turkish-Dutch culture is responding to acculturation and how they are trying to adapt to Dutch culture. Many research papers had written on the subject which is mentioned above. However, the question being referred in this paper is slightly different as it is analyzing the third generation rather than the first and second generation Turkish-Dutch culture.

Although the researches shows that first and second generation Turkish-Dutch culture has difficulties in adapting to cultural values of Dutch cultures, it is expected that third generation Turkish-Dutch culture will be better adapted and accept acculturation. It is clearly observed that first and second generation Turkish-Dutch culture insisted on integration rather than acculturation. Their wish to protect their identities and cultural values and norms lead them to create their ‘minority society’ in which they rejected to acculturate. Moreover, they only tried to be the part of the Dutch culture when needed and act totally in their own ways in private lives.

Several expectations are made about the expected attitudes of Turkish–Dutch and Dutch

  • Since first and second generation Turkish–Dutch were referred as low status culture by Dutch culture, third generation can turn this disadvantage to advantage by providing benefits from The Netherlands. In other words, it is expected that third generation Turkish–Dutch will be more congruent with Dutch culture and acculturate so as to benefit a higher welfare by high levels of education, higher salaries, successful environment since there is no negative externalities distracting them from their work and integrity .


  • Although first and second generation Turkish–Dutch insisted on the maintenance of Turkish culture through migrants, third generation is expected to understand that the situation will be better for them since they can adapt Dutch culture, have a family there, marry a Dutch and can still live according to his own values and norm when its required.
  • First and third generation Turkish–Dutch strictly prefers integration whereas Dutch culture is in favor of adaptation. However, as third generation gets used to Dutch culture, values, norms and living style, the proportion of acceptance of living in Dutch culture is expected to be higher. Therefore, Dutch will not insist on cultural assimilation since there will not be any threat upon that issue.





In order to have a survey on basic characteristics of participants and analyze the acculturation rate among Turkish–Dutch culture, Dutch participants should be majority whereas there will be a minority of Turkish–Dutch participants. As a result the groups are made as follows. A group of 1250 Dutch and a group of 160 Turkish–Dutch participants were involved in this study. Among 1250 of Dutch, 500 are females and 750 are males. The mean age of the group is 42.25. Just like the Dutch, Turkish–Dutch third generation sample consisted of 60 females and 100 males, with a mean age of 23.74.

To be a fairly good representative sample of the Dutch culture the people are selected with all ages with respect to the general population parameters. A questionnaire is prepared and Dutch sample is requested to fill it in. As it is much more difficult to obtain Turkish–Dutch participants, it is necessary to use some networks to reach them. Since there are not that much third generation Turkish–Dutch in the Netherlands, the sample is tried to be the best representative of the limited third generation population. As some participants are reached by institutions and organizations of the Turkish–Dutch, a highly beneficial method is applied. With the help of snowball sampling, sufficient number of participants is reached.


Instruments and Procedure:

A qualitative study will be conducted in order to achieve the general knowledge about the participant groups, both Turkish-Dutch and Dutch are asked some basic questions about their characteristics. The questions will be similar to the demographic information such as age, gender, educational level and employment status. For the third generation Turkish-Dutch culture, we do not expect greater variety since the ages and the employment statues cannot be in such different ranges. Secondly, for the main part of our method, some questions should be prepared so as to give information about the concern on acculturation and assimilation. After preparing the questions, all questions should be turned to the native language of Dutch and Turkish-Dutch participants. Consequently, the best understandable translation which is obtained by consensus will be placed in the questionnaire. Finally, acculturation attitudes towards Turkish-Dutch and Dutch culture are examined with a list of domains. At this point, it should be underlined that the domain cannot contain factors such as child rearing has a limitation since third generation Turkish-Dutch participants may not have a child since their ages are in the range of 20-25 years old. Moreover the domain can contain cultural habits, education level and the usage of language. As a consequence, the four domains are as follows; child rearing, cultural habits, education level and usage of language.

All of the domains should be formed in a way that the form of questions will be adapted to which side we are asking the question. The main logic of this application is to collect answers which are highly relevant with the subject.

To start with, child rearing is an area which people reflects their cultural norms, values and what they inherit from their family structures. The way people rear their child gives many clues about their attitudes and moreover foreshadows the fact that in which way they are expected to act. The question should be blended with the idea of acculturation and/or assimilation. For example ‘Turkish-Dutch minority should rear their children in the Turkish way with respect to Turkish culture’ and ‘Turkish minority should rear their children in the Dutch way with respect to culture now they are living with?’

Secondly, cultural habits will be asked in order to understand whether third generation Turkish-Dutch culture is integrated to Dutch culture or they are insisting on keeping their cultural habits. Therefore, it is very significant in representing the current situation.

The third element of the domain is the education level. Dutch culture’s perspective on Turkish-Dutch culture is that they are low-status. Moreover, Turkish-Dutch are regarded as low educational level, consequently having a lower wage rate.

Finally, the use of language is very important since it represents where and how frequently Turkish-Dutch are using their own native language Turkish and where and in which situations the Dutch language. It is highly expected that Dutch is used in all public communication whereas Turkish has a great importance in daily private lives. However, third generation Turkish-Dutch are expected to use Dutch more frequently than first and second generation Turkish-Dutch.

The responses will be expected to given a 6-point Likert scale, where 1 will mean they do not agree at all (strongly disagree in other words) and 6 claims that totally agree.





Arends-Toth, Judit, and Fons J. R. Van De Vijver. “Multiculturalism and

Acculturation: Views of Dutch and Turkish-Dutch.” European Journal of

           Social Psychology 33.2 (2003): 249-66. Print



Bourhis, Richard Y., Elisa Montaruli, Shaha El-Geledi, Simon-Pierre Harvey, and

Genevieve Barrette. “Acculturation in Multiple Host Community Settings.”

Journal of Social Issues 66 (2010): 780-802.



Phalet, K., and U. Schonpflug. “Intergenerational Transmission of Collectivism and

Achievement Values in Two Acculturation Contexts: The Case of Turkish

Families in Germany and Turkish and Moroccan Families in the Netherlands.”

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 32.2 (2001): 186-201






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