The Double Helix of Cultural Assimilationism and Neo-liberalism: Citizenship in Contemporary Governmentality

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract In this article the recent transformations of citizenship in the Netherlands are analysed in relation to a developing form of governmentality. We regard citizenship as a state regulated technique of in- and exclusion and a crucial instrument in the management of populations. Taking the Dutch contexts of immigration and integration as our case, we argue that cultural assimilationism and neo-liberalism appear in a double helix: they combine to form a new governmental strategy we call neo-liberal communitarianism. Neo-liberal communitarianism is the underlying rationale of a population management that operates both in an individualizing (citizenship as individual participation and responsibility) and a de-individualizing way (‘community’ at various aggregate and localized levels as frame of ‘integration’). It thus combines a communitarian care of a Dutch culturally grounded national community – conceived as traditionally‘enlightened’ and ‘liberal’– with a neo-liberal emphasis on the individual's responsibility to achieve membership of that community. ‘Community’ is thereby selectively seen as mobilized and present (when immigrant integration is concerned) or as latently present and still in need of mobilization (when indigenous Dutch are concerned). Concomitantly, a repressive responsibilization and a facilitative responsibilization are aimed at these two governmentally differentiated populations. Keywords: Governmentality;citizenship;neo-liberal communitarianism;responsibilization;cultural assimilationism
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)696-715
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Research programs



Dive into the research topics of 'The Double Helix of Cultural Assimilationism and Neo-liberalism: Citizenship in Contemporary Governmentality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this