The topic of stimulating interethnic contact – especially at schools – is common in the Dutch policy debates since the early 1980s and 1990s. The municipality of Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands, established the so-called “friendship school” in 2003 in an attempt to stimulate interethnic contact. The label indicates schools that are situated in homogenous neighborhoods that are either populated with autochthonal groups or immigrant groups. The friendship project means undertaking joint activities with schools in other neighborhoods with the aim of having pupils meeting pupils from different socio-economic, ethnic or cultural groups. Such contacts are assumed to increase mutual understanding and tolerance, as originally expressed in the so-called contact hypothesis. However, this hypothesis has not remained unchallenged. The central question in this study was whether policy makers and civil society organizations didn’t assume too easily that interethnic contact would lead to success. The results of this study show that children and teachers evaluate and experience this so-called friendship school both as positive and negative. The most important outcome of this study however is that stimulating interethnic contact at schools does not necessarily mean that all the conditions derived from the contact hypothesis should be met. To set up successful interethnic meetings at schools, one must above all make sure that children from different groups are not aware of any unequal conditions between them and one must not include cultural and ethnical differences in the activities for children.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL
Journal Mens en Maatschappij: tijdschrift voor sociale wetenschappen
Belabas, W. (2012). Meeting is mating: utopie of werkelijkheid?. Mens en Maatschappij: tijdschrift voor sociale wetenschappen. Retrieved from