Thinking of the Netherlands

Social and Cultural Report 2019 public magazine

From the perspective of the Dutch citizen, it is possible to discern and describe a Dutch identity. Key elements in that identity are the Dutch language, as well as symbols and traditions. There are strikingly few differences between Dutch people based on gender, age, education level or origin. While there is essentially a consensus about what makes the Netherlands the Netherlands, there are some differences of view. Freedom is the major common denominator for many Dutch people, though how that concept is interpreted can vary and is sometimes contradictory.

There is a tension between people who feel attachment to the Netherlands based on symbols and traditions, and people whose affective ties with the Netherlands derive from civic freedoms. These groups clash because they think differently about what constitutes the Dutch identity. Exacerbated by the magnifying lens of social media, this – despite the major common  denominator – creates an impression of a polarised country. This edition of the Social and Cultural Report (Sociaal en Cultureel Rapport) analyses and describes what people think of as a Dutch identity and what binds and divides the Dutch nation.