WP2 focuses on solutions for inclusion that incorporate characteristics of different communities as well as how these are affected by and impact on families and work organizations.
Challenge 4: Accomodating Newcomers
Sustainability Threat. We conceive of newcomer entry as an “external shock” to the community or organization.
State of the Art. When newcomers (e.g. refugees, international students, migrant workers) arrive, the standard approach is to try to include them by inviting them to participate in existing activities, and make contact with others. This approach, ‘integration’, in fact expects newcomers to assimilate into existing structures and initiatives, without considering the possibility that they have diverging needs or can offer complementary contributions. It relies on the assumption that there is implicit agreement on joint needs and who should contribute what. This form of contact and ‘integration’ can only intensify mutual distrust and misunderstanding if it is not supported by the explicit development of shared goals and common values.
Main Proposition. Those who newly arrive run the risk of being seen as ‘free riders’, who expect to benefit from collective resources without first contributing. Newcomers in turn may not realize what type of contribution is expected from them (e.g. migrant parents’ involvement in school or sports activities), or may not perceive existing resources as meeting their needs (e.g., when their favored activity is not available). We hypothesize that it is easier to accommodate newcomers and benefit from their input to secure collective provisions when their unique needs and inputs are explicitly acknowledged and incorporated. We examine this in four projects.
Main Outcome. This research identifies factors that enhance participation of parents, workers and community members in joint activities – also after newcomer entry. This type of cooperation must be sustained to realize collective provisions that cater for joint needs, such as sports clubs, extracurricular school activities, or professional development and mentoring opportunities.
Sustainability Threat. Including people and securing their contributions and access to collective outcomes is more complicated when the same individual can be considered as part of different communities, which only partially overlap (i.e. Moroccan Dutch, gay employees) due to the possibility of negative spillover effects.
State of the Art. Social inclusion requires that people who live or work together develop joint guidelines for acceptable behavior, and investment of time and resources in collective outcomes. When it is no longer self-evident that one’s networks, goals, and identities align, it becomes difficult to decide which values and ideals to adhere to, and how to behave towards neighbors, colleagues, or customers. Current approaches tend to see those who belong to multiple communities as having split loyalties, which reduce their willingness to invest in joint outcomes that are procured together within families, organizations, or online vs. offline communities. The standard way to address this is to ignore alternative identities or value incompatibilities people may struggle with, and focus on socialization, compliance, and rule enforcement within a single domain.
Main Proposition. Our SCOOP approach clarifies that this strategy is not sustainable as it invites negative spillover effects. When people are ‘forced’ to ignore their loyalty to another community, they also miss out on the social support and access to collective resources it offers. The main hypothesis guiding research into this challenge is that positive spillover effects that sustain and enhance psychological and social inclusion, and contribution to collective outcomes can be achieved by acknowledging people’s allegiance to multiple communities and identities. Clearly the mechanisms play a key role in this process to the extent that they are focused on common goals, shared identities and interdependent networks at the group level.
Main Outcome. This research specifies when individuals who connect different communities can become ‘linking pins’ by enriching and investing in both, instead of withdrawing their contributions from one of these communities.
Challenge 5: Connecting Communities
Challenge 6: Dealing with Diversity
Sustainability Threat. The Netherlands has a strong tradition in providing separate provisions for the education, sports, and entertainment of each religious group (“verzuiling”). While this has played a role in the emancipation of different groups, it has also resulted in tensions and conflicts between them. Such initiatives to offer members of each community their own provisions and outcomes can elicit a negative feedback cycle, where they increasingly withdraw their cooperation from any initiatives that do not target their specific community. Being less well represented in turn reduces the likelihood that broader provisions cater for their community’s needs.
State of the Art. When families, communities, and organizations become more diverse, existing arrangements that intended to secure a common identity and cater to common goals have to be reconsidered. Cooperation to put up street decorations for Christmas, end the week with Friday drinks at work, and even union activities may dwindle when fewer people see these as important or attractive outcomes. This raises the questions of which common resources and outcomes should be retained, which have become obsolete, and what can replace such provisions to align efforts for inclusion. Solutions oscillate between attempts to mobilize individuals to participate in existing activities, and offering each group or community the opportunity to focus on their own goals and relevant outcomes. These oscillations tend to be driven by political convictions rather than empirical insights on what is effective.
Main Proposition. Our SCOOP approach examines the tension between segregation and inclusion tendencies, and how to make these productive in different ways. Our main prediction is that people are most inclined to participate in joint activities and efforts when their distinct identities and needs are acknowledged in some way. This can occur through common and inclusive identities but only to the extent that superordinate group norms recognize subgroup identities and value difference and diversity (i.e. multicultural rather than color-blind), and avoid hierarchies of subgroup identities. Otherwise any cooperation is likely to descend into a negative spiral and become unsustainable.
Main Outcome. This research will determine the factor that may prevent negative feedback cycles and turn these into positive cycles of self-reinforcing participation of different communities in joint initiatives.