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04.01 Caring Communities: Integrating Newcomers into the Labour Market

| Projects

Aim of the project

Project 1 will examine historical periods in which newcomers arrived in communities (e.g. religious refugees, migrant workers) to assess which institutional provisions that invited, allowed, or benefitted from the arrival of newcomers predict the success of their inclusion in terms of the development of economic and social equality. The key characteristics thus identified will be further tested with contemporary experimental studies examining the psychological reaction of individuals towards newcomers.

Theoretical background

Although the EU preaches free movement of people, recognition of professional qualifications, and access to large parts of the labour market are actually regulated by organisations of the most important stakeholders: employers and employees. It has been so for many centuries. These organisations play an ambiguous role vis-à-vis newcomers. At times they have welcomed migrants, for example to relieve acute shortages or to relieve the indigenous workers from unattractive jobs (1960s), at other times they have tried to keep migrants out. This project will first examine the integration of newcomers in an historic organisation called the Amsterdam Surgeons’ Guild. It will examine how the Guild’s formal entry criteria, as well as informal behaviour from its members, impacts on the admittance and retention pattern of immigrant newcomers to the organisation. These patterns that are uncovered in the historical case study of the Surgeons’ Guild will then, during the second part of the project, be tested in a contemporary setting using experimental social psychological methodology and theory.

Research design

This project combines historical case studies and experimental psychological studies in order to answer the broader question of how newcomers integrate into an existing organisation. The historical analysis will focus on formal entry criteria of the Amsterdam Surgeons’ Guild that may impact the ease with which newcomers can enter and integrate into the organisation. In addition, informal reactions to newcomers by the existing guild members will also be analyzed. The hope is that such an analysis will uncover previously unknown factors that may lead to the successful integration of newcomers into pre-existing organisations. These uncovered factors will then be tested again in a contemporary setting, in order to learn whether a) these factors still play a role in the integration of newcomers in today’s labour market and b) which thoughts and feelings of the receiving party may further explain this integration process.

Current status

The historical case study of the Amsterdam Surgeons’ Guild has revealed that the location where the newcomer has completed their education (inside Amsterdam or outside) impacted their further integration into the local organisation. This finding adds the insight that the usual focus on newcomer birthplace may not be sufficient to understand integration processes. Psychological studies are now being conducted to examine how the newcomer’s place of education impacts the way in which hat newcomer is evaluated (trusted, mistrusted) by members of the receiving society.


  • Discipline
    Social Psychology, History
  • Location
    University of Utrecht, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • Period
    September 1, 2018 - August 31, 2022