European values: where do the Dutch stand?
The Netherlands has become more traditional and conservative over the past ten years, according to a long-term study of European values.
The study also gives short shrift to the generally accepted notion that the Dutch are indifferent towards social values. In fact, by comparison with many other European countries they're socially involved and don't put themselves first.
Sociologists Loek Halman and Inge Sieben of the University of Tilburg have written the book "Respect man - tolerance, solidarity and other social values". The book was presented to Ben Knapen, the Minister for Development Cooperation, on 25 November 2011. Its findings are based on data from The Atlas of European Values, a report released every nine years since 1981.
Conservative and traditional
The Netherlands is one of the most prosperous countries in Europe, where individual freedom and personal development are rampant. Government interference in these areas is received with a large amount of mistrust. The Netherlands is in line with the rest of North-western Europe, but differs in the sense that the Dutch are becoming more conservative and more traditional. The researchers conclude that the country is "marking time".
The Dutch are steadily becoming less proud of their country, but they're certainly not strongly European. Politics plays a significant role, yet the average Dutchman is much less politically active than the population in neighbouring countries.
The Dutch turn out to be leaders in Europe in terms of social commitment and solidarity with the needy. But here a sharp line is drawn: pensioners and the sick can count on support, but job seekers and immigrants in particular miss out. "The person seeking help is only welcome if he/she does not threaten our jobs and if he/she adapts to our norms and values," say the researchers.
Although Dutch education is known as being very free, Dutch parents often appear to stick to traditional values. Thus good manners, obedience, thrift and respect for others are regarded as important qualities to pass on to the next generation.
Independence and accountability play a lesser role. According to the researchers, this shows that the Dutch believe the individualization of society has gone too far. This is evidenced by the fact that the Dutch certainly don't believe people should only be concerned with their own affairs.
As for the Dutch youth, they're not egoistic self-kickers, but more socially involved and more likely to donate to charity than in the past. They do more volunteer work and are more politically active than in previous years.
Apparently the Netherlands is re-inventing itself as a country that no longer embraces individualism, and where people aren't waiting for major changes and developments. Traditional and conservative: who can still remember that these used to be "dirty words" in the Netherlands?