Culturele diversiteit in opvattingen over misdaad en straf onder leerlingen van het VMBO

M.S. de Boer

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


    Over the past few decades there has been an alarming rise in crime rates in the Netherlands, which show that a higher percentage of the immigrant population is involved in criminal activities (compared to the national average). In addition the degree to which each ethnic minority group is overrepresented in the crime figures differs greatly, and there seems to be a particular trend in the types of crime committed by each different ethnic minority group: Turks, more often than other groups, are involved in violent retribution within their own communities (mostly concerning crimes of honour); Moroccans seem to specialise in burglary and street robbery; Antilleans are overrepresented in armed robbery, using a knife to threaten their victims with; and the Surinamese are overrepresented in street robbery, and also in the dealing of drugs. Traditional criminological theories fall short in their explanation of the differences between ethnic groups in their overrepresentation in crime figures, and the specific trends in the types of crimes committed by these immigrant groups. This has lead to the discussion whether there might be a ‘cultural explanation’ for these differences: maybe different ethnic groups have very different opinions about crime and punishment, based on opinions in their indigenous culture. The existence of cultural diversity in the opinions, of the five groups mentioned above, about crime and punishment – as is contended by some authors of ethnographic studies – has never been verified statistically. As part of a wider, nationally funded research programme on the multicultural dimension in Dutch criminal law practice, this project therefore explores the following question: to what extent are the opinions about theft, violence, and punishment of Antillean, Dutch, Moroccan, Surinamese and Turkish juveniles in the Netherlands ethnically specific? The empirical research was carried out between 2000 and 2004, among five groups of teenagers between fourteen and eighteen years of age (altogether 1049), who are pupils in vocational schools in three big cities in the Netherlands (Utrecht, Almere and Rotterdam): native Dutch teenagers, and teenagers from the four major immigrant communities in the Netherlands (Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese and Antillean). The research consisted of an extensive questionnaire about theft, violence and punishment (which the pupils filled in during a school period), and semi-structured individual and group interviews. The results of this study show that Dutch, Antillean, Surinamese, Moroccan and Turkish youngsters in Dutch vocational schools have by and large the same opinions about theft, violence and punishment. Although there are some statistically significant differences of opinion between the five groups, most of these are too small to be taken into account. The only exception is the opinions of the Turkish group concerning crimes of honour. This means that the hypothesis that ethnic diversity in the opinions about crime and punishment is a cause of differences in criminal behaviour by different ethnic minorities in the Netherlands (i.e. the 'cultural explanation'), has to be rejected.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Utrecht University
    • Bovenkerk, Frank, Primary supervisor
    • Yeşilgöz, Y., Co-supervisor, External person
    • Jansen, W., Co-supervisor
    Award date14 Nov 2008
    Place of PublicationDen Haag
    Print ISBNs978-90-8974-0236
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2008

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