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Netherlands: Prominent governmental organisations abandon the term alien (Unofficial translation)


Allochtoon (alien), was introduced in the Netherlands in 1989 as a neutral term to differentiate those who originate from 'this soil' (autochtoon) from those you don't. With time, it came to actually mean 'not really Dutch' and was also used for Dutch nationals. Therefore, the daily journal Volkskrant expressed its decision to abandon the term in 2015,. One year later, 2 important governmental organisations, namely Statistics Netherlands and the Scientific Council for Government Policy - WRR, have presented a publication wherein they announce to relinquish the term as well.

This decision is explained by the fact that allochtoon has been 'less prevalent' in recent years, is 'no longer inaccurate' and 'stigmatises specific groups'. But the decision was not easy to take as the term allowed longitudinal studies. It will be replaced, when needed, by 'person with migration background' and 'Person with a Dutch background' will be used for autochtoon. WRR writes that it will give preference to more specific classification such as Turkish-Dutch or Caribbean-Dutch. Alien or 'person with migration background' is considered as too broad.

For nearly thirty years, this jargon determined to a large extent how people where viewed and classified, not only in statistics, research and formal reporting (the yearly Integration reports for example) but also in on the streets, at schools and in the society in general. 2 main organisations abandoning its use will probably also have a big influence in these fields.


Read more here and here

Related opinion pieces available here and here

VVR and Statistics Netherlands' Publication