Our Research

‘The scientific output of the programme is notable for its impact both in academia and in society more generally.’

– QANU Research Review 2014

ERCOMER has an interdisciplinary research programme on international migration, ethnic relations and cultural diversity, drawing on social psychological, sociological, political science, and anthropological approaches to issues that have strong and immediate societal relevance. Our research is theory driven, using state-of-the-art (comparative) analytical techniques.

Our research themes

International migration

Questions related to the motivations and factors that drive migration remain at the forefront of public attention. An understanding of the forces that drive migration decisions can inform research on immigrant integration and identity, as well as policy making on migration, settlement and integration. Some of our recent work has focused on explanations of return migration intentions among recent immigrants and refugees.

Researchers: Mérove Gijsberts | Özge Bilgili | Borja Martinovic | GB Dielissen

Structural integration

Immigrants’ structural integration, and structural inequalities between ethnic and cultural groups in society, is one of the key social problems that is addressed by research at Ercomer. Recent studies have for instance investigated female labour market participation among a range of cultural groups, as well as ethnic discrimination in selection and hiring procedures.

Researchers: Mérove Gijsberts | Fenella Fleischmann | Özge Bilgili | Valentina Di Stasio

Socio-cultural integration

Whether and how immigrants and their offspring engage in intergroup contact, and how cultural values, political orientations and religious beliefs develop in host societies, are crucial aspects of the integration of immigrants. We study these topics among a variety of ethnic and religious immigrant groups, as well as the European-born second generation.

Researchers: Maykel Verkuijten | Mérove Gijsberts | Fenella Fleischmann | Borja Martinovic

Ethnic relations in the school context

Increasing cultural diversity has transformed the faces of our schools. In the context of interethnic schools, Ercomer researchers study issues such as (lack of) interethnic contact and friendship networks in schools, peer victimization and interethnic bullying, and children’s interethnic attitudes and helping behavior.

Researchers: Maykel Verkuijten | Jochem Thijs | Tobias Stark | Jolien Geerlings | Lian van Vemde

Attitudes towards minority rights

A key issue in the incorporation of immigrants is the willingness to extend rights and privileges to newcomers. This research line focuses on issues such as (reactions to) the political representation of ethnic minority groups and exclusive attitudes with regard to minorities’ entitlement to welfare arrangements.

Researchers: Maykel Verkuijten | Edwin Poppe | Anouk Smeekes | Femke van der Werf | Levi Adelman | Evi Velthuis | Marija Dangubic | Sara Cvetkovska

Ethnic, religious, and national identities

The focus area ethnic, religious and national identities aims to identify the psychological mechanisms that explain social identification processes, to identify causes that hamper or stimulate the development of these social identities, and to identify their consequences, for instance in terms of intergroup attitudes. Recent studies have for instance investigated the role of historical national symbols and feelings of collective nostalgia in stimulating identification processes. Other studies examine so-called dual identities and how these relate to collective action.

Researchers: Maykel Verkuijten | Edwin Poppe | Anouk Smeekes | Fenella Fleischmann | Borja Martinovic

Cultural diversity ideologies

A broad range of policy questions can be brought back to the question how to deal with cultural diversity. We investigate how people think about cultural diversity and about citizenship in a multicultural society. Our studies have for instance focused on the endorsement of diversity ideologies and its consequences for intergroup relations, and on the effects of multicultural citizenship education.

Researchers: Maykel VerkuijtenAnouk Smeekes | Jochem ThijsBorja Martinovic | Tom Nijs | Nora Storz | Wybren Nooitgedagt

Research assessment Ercomer

In 2014, the Utrecht research programme of Ercomer was evaluated by an international evaluation committee, as part of a national comparative evaluation of 10 sociology and social science research programmes in the Netherlands. Ercomer takes part in the programme ‘Social Networks, Solidarity, and Inequality’ of the Department of Sociology of Utrecht University. In this research evaluation this programme received maximum scores (of 5, on a scale from 1 through 5) on the criteria quality (international recognition and innovative potential), productivity (scientific output), and viability (flexibility, management, and leadership), and scored 4.5 on relevance (scientific and socio-economic impact): making it the top ranked programme nationally.

The international evaluation committee commends the scientific output of the programme (‘The quality of the scientific output is very high by international standards’; ‘The scientific output of the programme is notable for its impact both in academia and in society more generally.’) and are similarly enthusiastic about the quality of the Master programme (a ‘record of excellence is characteristic of the research master’s programme’).


Source: QANU Assessment Report 2014