Migration, Ethnicity and the Economy

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Migration, Ethnicity and the Economy

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Anthropology, Intercultural Communications

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    After successful completion of the course, you are able to:
    (1) To familiarize oneself with and critically reflect on the ways immigrants have been incorporated and how their exclusion has been legitimized in social and public debates.
    (2) To gain knowledge how economic behaviour is entangled with culture.
     (3) To gain knowledge how economics and culture are entangled in the field of consumption, labour selection and entrepreneurship
    (4) To gain knowledge of and insight into the ways culture generates economic forces that affect immigrant incorporation.
    (5) To learn how to write a position paper in which a personal stance is developed that addresses one of the key debates at the centre of the course.

    Failing immigrant incorporation in many Western societies has been attributed to immigrant culture. Although an increasing proportion of immigrants are incorporated in society, they are blamed for their deficient attitudes, ethnic networks and incompatible values. Immigrants are urged to adopt the host society’s culture to equalized their own culture and establish equal chances. This message of assimilation had been strongly recommended in public debate and scholarship. Failure to become integrated is often attributed to the persistence of immigrants’ cultures. In this reasoning, two issues are downplayed. The first is that the causes of incorporation are determined in the realm of ‘culture’. Culture becomes a master concept to explain every negative outcome concerning migrants. Culture also accounts for positive outcomes, since the incorporated migrants allegedly have adopted the host culture. In contrast, as it concerns the native population, the market accounts for incorporation—specifically the labour and housing market. The market is supposedly devoid of culture, as major players are rationally driven to maximize their gains. The second issue consists of a denial of the way culture frames and determines economic forces, including markets. The dominant concept is that economics determine culture (rather than culture determining economics) and that culture is something located outside the economic realm. This conception misrepresents that culture is often constitutive of economics and that the economic actor’s culture enables incorporation. This course addresses the relationship between culture and economics. It discusses the current (mis)conceptualization of culture in the field of economics and the related consequences. It exemplifies these issues by discussing the incorporation of immigrants.

     Basic issues are:
    • Labour market selection
    • Ethnicity and entrepreneurship
    • Consumption of ethnic commoditie

    Seminars, guest lectures and an excursion.

    Weekly assignments (20%), a mid-term essay (20%), presentations (10%) and a position paper (50%).

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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