Migration, Ethnicity and the Economy


Course Objective

After successful completion of the course, you are able to:
(1) To familiarize oneself with and critically reflect on the ways
immigrants have been incorporated and how their exclusion has been
legitimized in social and public debates.
(2) To gain knowledge how economic behaviour is entangled with culture.
(3) (3) To gain knowledge how economics and culture are entangled in the
field of consumption, labour selection and entrepreneurship
(4) To gain knowledge of and insight into the ways culture generates
economic forces that affect immigrant incorporation.

(5) To learn how to write a position paper in which a personal stance is
developed that addresses one of the key debates at the centre of the

Course Content

Failing immigrant incorporation in many Western societies has been
attributed to immigrant culture. Although an increasing proportion of
immigrants are incorporated in society, they are blamed for their
deficient attitudes, ethnic networks and incompatible values. Immigrants
are urged to adopt the host society’s culture to establish equal
chances. This message of assimilation had been strongly recommended in
public debate and scholarship. In this reasoning, two issues are
downplayed. The first is that the causes of social exclusion are located
in the realm of ‘culture’ that becomes a master concept to explain every
negative outcome concerning migrants. In contrast, the native population
allegedly acquires public goods via the market—specifically the labour
and housing market. The market is supposedly devoid of culture, as major
players are rationally driven to maximize their gains. This tension
between culture and market is a central topic of the course. The second
issue consists of a denial of the way culture frames and determines
economic forces, including markets. The dominant concept is that
economics determine culture (rather than culture determining economics)
and that culture is something located outside the economic realm. This
conception of the market ignores that culture is often constitutive of
economics and that the economic actor’s culture acounts for
incorporation or exclusion of migrants. This course addresses the
relationship between culture and economics. It discusses the current
(mis)conceptualization of culture in the field of economics and the
related consequences. It exemplifies these issues by discussing the
incorporation of immigrants. Basic issues are:
• Labour market selection
• Ethnicity and entrepreneurship
• Consumption of ethnic commodities

Teaching Methods


Method of Assessment

Assessment: Quality of the midterm (30%); Quality of the final paper
(50%); Participation in discussion (10%);
Creativity and originality of the paper (10%).



Week 1: 5 september
Topic: Economic man and the market
1. Morey: “An introduction to economic models”
2. Sen “Rational Fools”
3. Simon: A behavioural model of rational choice
4. Stiglitz and Walsh: “Principles of microeconomics”, ch. 3

Week 2: 12 september
Topic: Culture and economics, forms of entanglement
1. Storr “Economists should study culture” (ch. 2 of “Understanding the
Culture of Markets”
2. Eelke de Jong et al “A History of Thought about culture and Economy”
(ch. 2 of “Culture and Economics: On Values, Economics and International
3. Gowricharn “Economic Home making”
4. Granovetter “Impact of social structure on economic outcomes”
5. Herrmann-Pillath: “What have we learnt from 20 years of economic
research into culture?”

Week 3: 19 september
Topic: Labour selection, ethnic entrepreneurship and consumption
1. Light et al: “Internal ethnicity in the ethnic economy”
2. Gowricharn “Integration and Cohesion”
3. Riviera “Hiring as Cultural Matching”
4. Pecoud “What is ethnic in an ethnic economy?”
5. Zukin and Maguire “Consumers and Consumption”

Week 4: 26 september
Topic: Interview
1. Priore: “Qualitative economics”
2. Find yourself a book on research design, interview skills and

Week 5: 3 october
Topic: writing and reporting midterm paper
1. Find yourself a book on academic writing and reporting.

Week 6: 10 october
Topic: presentation and discussion of the papers
1. Students are supposed to have read all papers of their fellow

Week 7: 17 october
Topic: synthesis of the course

Target Audience

This course is open to students from various disciplines who have
completed their first year of their Bachelor program. Exchange Students.

Additional Information

This course is part of the minor 'Migration Studies'.

General Information

Course Code L_GWBAALG002
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 200
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator prof. dr. R. Gowricharn
Examiner prof. dr. R. Gowricharn
Teaching Staff prof. dr. R. Gowricharn

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar
Target audiences

This course is also available as: