The recent debate on segregation in western European countries has been framed with significantly different assumptions from those prevailing in the study of minority-group housing segregation in the US. In the public debate in western European countries, segregation of minority groups is increasingly blamed on those groups themselves. In a now popular narrative, they are thought of as sticking consciously together and not subscribing to the aspirations, including housing preferences, of the indigenous population. Using data on suburbanization in the Rotterdam metropolitan area, we show that that economically successful and socially upwardly mobile migrants of Surinamese background show the same volume and pattern of geographic mobility as do the native Dutch. On top of that, they use the same narrative as other suburbanizing groups in the past. Contrary to the now dominant policy view, it seems that class, more so than ethnicity, determines metropolitan residential patterns and the dynamics behind them. Our data do not corroborate the notion that members of migrant groups have housing preferences that significantly deviate from those of the middle-class Dutch.

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Journal of Housing and the Built Environment
Department of Sociology

Burgers, J., & Lugt, H. (2006). Spatial assimilation of minority groups: The case of suburanizing Surinamese in the Rotterdam region. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 21(2), 127–139. doi:10.1007/s10901-006-9038-5