Antwerp and Rotterdam appear regularly in the news as cities in which part of the ethnic population has trouble with foreigners, but little is known about how the foreigners in these cities feel.
A new study compared the experiences of 300 Moroccans in Antwerp, Brussels, Liege and Rotterdam and came to surprising conclusions. Moroccans in Antwerp and Rotterdam are more content with their lives than Moroccans in the French-speaking cities of Liege and Brussels.
It could be said that Moroccans feel more discriminated in the French speaking cities, but the study shows that Moroccans experience a great deal of discrimination in all cities.
There are clearly differences between the experience of Moroccans in Dutch-speaking and French-speaking cities. Moroccans in Rotterdam and Antwerp look at the local population differently than in Brussels and Liege.
The study divided attitudes into four: integration, assimilation, separation and marginalization. * Integration - wanting to keep your own culture but thinking that contact with the ethnic population is important.
* Assimilation - wanting to be like the local population
* Separation - withdrawing from the local population
* Marginalization - not belonging to either group
In Antwerp and Rotterdam there was a clear preference for integration over anything else, while in Liege and Brussels integration got only a little more preference over the other options.
French is an important language in Morocco and therefore the study expected Moroccans in Liege to have an easier time in adapting to the local population than in Antwerp. It also expected Moroccans to feel more at ease in Brussels, which being an international and multi-cultural city with both French and Dutch as official languages also sees English as an important language.
Differently than expected, it appeared that there was no difference between Moroccans who lived in Belgium and the Netherlands. According to Geert Hofstede, a known researcher in the area of national cultures, the Belgian culture is more similar to the Moroccan than Dutch culture. For example, both Belgians and Moroccans are more oriented to hierarchy. However, the study showed no real difference between how the Moroccans in Antwerp and Rotterdam felt.
Moroccans in the French speaking cities experience greater resemblance to their own culture then in the Dutch speaking cities. But that does not affect how content they feel.
It might be that in the French speaking cities of Brussels and Liege they're less content because they do their best to assimilate and do not succeed. They're never "real" Belgians. In Antwerp and Rotterdam, on the other hand, they're less disappointed because they don't try to assimilate as much. The combination of contact with the locals as well as being able to keep their own identity makes them rather content.
Additionally, the French-speaking cities are more influenced by French centralization and have an immigration policy based on assimilation. While in Antwerp and Rotterdam the Anglo-Saxon multi-cultural model is more pronounced.
Source: Kennislink (Dutch)