Identity experiences of black people in the Netherlands

Renee Zonneveld, Susanne B. E. Brand, Byron G. Adams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
121 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, we used the tri-dimensional model of identity and acculturation strategies to explore how black people living in the Netherlands define themselves. We used a qualitative survey design in which 14 participants (females = 8; age range 21 to 58) completed open-ended questions about their experiences of being black in the Netherlands. Data was analysed using hermeneutic phenomenology in three steps: naive understanding, structural analysis, and comprehensive understanding. We derived several main themes: Acceptance; Inclusion; Stereotypes; Social membership; Person-specific characteristics; Separation (Contributors); and Social Status. We associated the themes Acceptance, Inclusion, and Separation (Contributors) with acculturation and acculturative strategies. The other themes can be connected to the tri-dimensional identity model. Social membership and Social status are related to the social and relational aspects of identity, while Person-specific characteristics can be linked to personal identity. Lastly, the theme Stereotypes can be related to both acculturation and racism, but also personal identity as it shows how the participants perceive their self-concept to contradict the beliefs that mainstream Dutch society holds about them. We conclude that identity construction among the black respondents was reliant on both their ethnic community membership and their membership of the mainstream Dutch community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychology in Africa
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2017


  • identity
  • identity experiences
  • acculturation
  • black people
  • the Netherlands

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