UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shifting standards of ethnic tolerance? the case of the Netherlands and the evolution of ethnic intolerance Langley, Viktoria


As a result of rising right-wing populism and widespread Islamophobic discourse, many of the most ‘tolerant’ societies of Western Europe appear to be regressing after decades of post-WWII progress. This thesis questions whether or not there has been a shift in the standard of ethnic tolerance in Western Europe. This thesis asserts that post-War ‘progress’ was not universal and certainly never extended to the tolerance of ethnic diversity. The reality is that ethnic intolerance lingered after the Second World War, in spite of the attempts by post-War leaders to forget the past as quickly as possible. A post-War failure to adequately acknowledge the impact of racism on Western European societies has allowed the current anti-Islamic sentiment visible in policies, politics and public discourse in many nations to flourish. This thesis traces the evolution of ethnic intolerance in the Netherlands since the end of WWII. In the twenty-first century, the Dutch have abandoned the ‘multicultural’ policies of the previous century in favour of some of Western Europe’s strictest immigration and integration requirements. Due mainly to the success of key figures that pushed forward a lingering ethnic intolerance, the reputation for ‘tolerance’ that has previously been ascribed to the Dutch is now being called into question. Based on these developments, this thesis concludes that in the Netherlands ‘progressive’ social values have, until recently, overshadowed the more stagnant and, at times regressive, attitudes and policies directed at ethnic minorities. Finally, this thesis assesses the impact of Dutch developments on the rest of Western Europe, concluding that the ‘new’ right politics that emerged out of the Netherlands have legitimized ethnic intolerance, thereby enabling other Western European nations to adopt similar approaches to the immigration and integration of ethnic minorities while maintaining ‘liberal’ values.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International