‘New’ Dutch Civic Integration: learning ‘Spontaneous Compliance’ to address inherent difference

Critical Discourse Studies 21 (4):463-481 (2024)
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Abstract

In January 2022 the new Dutch Civic Integration programme was launched together with promises of improvements it would bring in facilitating the ‘integration’ of newcomers to the Netherlands. This study presents a critical discourse analysis of texts intended for municipalities to take on their new coordinating role in this programme. The analysis aims to understand the discourse in the texts, which actors are mobilized by them, and the role these texts and these actors play in processes of governmental racialization. The analysis demonstrates shifting complex assemblages are brought into cascades of governance in which all actors are disciplined to accept the problem of integration as a problem of cultural difference and distance, and then furthermore disciplined to adopt new practices deemed necessary to identify and even ‘objectively’ measure the inherent traits contributing to this problematic. Lastly, the analysis displays that all actors are disciplined to accept the solution of ‘spontaneous compliance’; a series of practices and knowledges, which move the civic integration programme beyond an aim of responsibilization, into a programme of internalization, wherein newcomers are expected to own and address their problematic ‘nature’, making ‘modern’ values their own.

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