Open Forum
Ethnic Options: Self-Identifications of Higher-Educated Second-Generation Minorities as Situated Ways to
Negotiate Belonging

by Marieke Wynanda Slootman (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Individuals with ethnic-minority backgrounds are persistently labelled as ethnic minorities, as outsiders, and encounter negative stereotyping. Research argues that they lack power to identify as they want, and that their ‘ethnic options’ are limited. This paper explores the ethnic options of higher-educated second-generation Moroccan and Turkish Dutch, focusing on articulated self-identifications in social interactions. In resonance with other literature, qualitative interviews show that mechanisms of exclusion, such as imposing minority labels, do not leave individuals powerless. Furthermore, the assumption that individuals have ‘a’ manner of self-identification appears too simplistic. Minority individuals have various identification strategies at their disposal, ranging from rejection to transformation and adoption of the ascribed label. Which strategy they choose depends on the situation and the audience. This focus on the articulated self-identifications highlights individual agency as used to negotiate belonging in various ways, while acknowledging the coercive power of the social context, revealing the interactive and situational nature of identification and boundary making.

Keywords: Ethnicity, identity, ethnic options, belonging, minorities, second generation.

New Diversities • Volume 21, No. 2, 2019
Populism Beyond the West: Dissonant Diversities and Fragmented Politics
Guest Editors: Sinem Adar (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik) and
GülAy Türkmen (University of Göttingen)