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Dutch Wednesday, 11.03.15: Neighbourhood Transformation in the Netherlands: Ethnic Teahouses vs Hipster Coffee Bars


The urban economic transformations of the last quarter of the twentieth century worked out unfavourably for many low-skilled immigrants. The Amsterdam economy, with its strong emphasis on high-skilled services, has grown rapidly, but against this backdrop the low participation rate of low-skilled immigrants still catches the eye. Despite the social engineering interventions aimed at the revitalization of the city and its neighborhoods - including investments in the local economy - this situation stays complex and ambiguous. Among other measures “high quality” shopping streets have been promoted. A number of immigrants have indeed set up shops, but "traditional" ethnic entrepreneurs at the lower end of the market are still seen as obstacles for the social and commercial renewal that the government has in mind. Only ethnic entrepreneurs who manage to cater to a middle-class clientele are seen as legitimate participants in this restructuring process and, consequently, eligible for support.

In his lecture Jan Rath speaks about the impact of immigrant entrepreneurship on the social-economic  outlook of neighborhoods of Amsterdam and examines the changing retail landscape in a number of Amsterdam neighbourhoods.

Jan Rath is professor of urban sociology and associated with the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES) and the Centre for Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam