On Friday 15th February 2019 at 10.30 a.m. Michel van Slobbe will defend his PhD thesis Among Ourselves. Dynamics in established-outsider relations at a sports club with the government as third actor.
Wanting to be 'among ourselves' is a social need that should not be underestimated. Particularly at sports clubs, in which members voluntarily connect and dedicate themselves to members from their own group. In his dissertation Onder ons however, researcher Michel van Slobbe from Utrecht University shows what happens when the government wants to enforce the integration of different groups. He does so in an ethnographic description of the developments at an amateur football club in the multicultural district Utrecht Overvecht. To strengthen the ailing club and its social function, the municipality urged the integration of ethnic groups among the existing members of the association. However well-intentioned, the relationship between the various groups within the association and in the neighborhood became upsetting.
Van Slobbe then argues that for government interventions in the social relations between ethnic groups in society, it would be good to have an eye for the 'established-outsiders' perspective. The balance of power between the various groups in a voluntary organization is delicate and ambitious government interventions can easily disrupt them, with all kinds of consequences. According to the researcher, this raises the question whether the coexistence of different 'among ourselves associations' and facilitating them is not a better option than forced integration.
Michel van Slobbe is a lecturer/researcher at the Utrecht University School of Governance (USG).