- Constitutioneel bewustzijn in Nederland: van burgerzin, burgerschap en de onzichtbare grondwet
- Recht der Werkelijkheid
- Volume | Issue number
- 30 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
Faced with increased individualization, debates on immigration and interna-tionalization, the Dutch government has recently appointed a Constitutional Review Commission to strengthen the Dutch constitution and enhance its social relevance. It is against this background that this article examines the place that the Dutch constitution currently holds in empirical and discursive understand-ings of citizenship in the Netherlands. From the vantage point of citizenship discourse, the interpretation of citizenship (burgerschap) in the Netherlands amongst policy-makers and the public at large hinges on civicness rather than on democratic citizenship, and departs from a strongly assimilationist perspec-tive: ‘burgerschap’ is essentially about participating in and adapting to the dominant culture. From the vantage point of the constitution, the current consti-tution’s main function is legal: constituting government powers and limiting their exercise. Legal scholars emphasize that the Dutch constitution hardly has a more symbolic or social role. These facts are contrasted with data from a representative survey under the Dutch adult population, which demonstrates how the Dutch hardly know anything about the contents of the constitution, but do have great confidence in the document, and consider it to be very important. Interestingly, respondents also emphasize the symbolic and societal function, in addition to the legal function of the constitution. This seems to point towards the possibility of an understanding of Dutch citizenship more firmly based upon the values embodied in the constitution.
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