Diasporic Civic Agency and Participation: Inclusive Policy-Making and Common Solutions in a Dutch Municipality

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

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Diasporic Civic Agency and Participation: Inclusive Policy-Making and Common Solutions in a Dutch Municipality


  • Antony Otieno Ong'ayo ISS–International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  With a growing presence in The Hague municipality, the sub-Sahara African diasporas like other minority groups face challenges related to integration, participation, representation, and social exclusion. The majority still find difficulties with the Dutch language, with access to education, the labour market, and public services. These concerns also inform initiatives by the municipality in search of joint solutions through citizen participation with the African diasporas. Equally, African diasporas engage in formal and informal initiatives targeting decision-maker in The Hague, seeking to reverse their sense of vulnerability and social exclusion in the city. Using data gathered through ethnographic fieldwork in The Hague from 2015 to 2017, this article examines how African diaspora organisations have sought to exercise their civic agency and to influence policy-making to become more inclusive, by proposing common solutions and collective initiatives. The aim is to understand how diaspora collective initiatives are informed by notions of civic agency, and how prospects can be generated for diasporas to secure the ‘right to have rights’ and ensure that the host municipality addresses concerns related to the diasporas’ exclusion. The concept of civic agency is also used to analyse dynamics influencing diasporic activities, the broader context of diaspora engagement, and some likely socio-political outcomes. I argue that collective diasporic initiatives are broadly aimed at ensuring more inclusive policy-making and that solutions are an expression of diasporic people’s collective energy and imagination. These collective initiatives demonstrate the significance of enacted citizenship in challenging broader conditions of social and economic exclusion that the African diasporas face in host municipalities like The Hague.

Keywords:  citizenship; civic agency; collective initiatives; diaspora engagement; inclusive policy-making; The Hague

Published:   28 November 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v7i4.2379


© Antony Otieno Ong'ayo. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.