Does the superdiversity label stick? Configurations of ethnic diversity in Dutch class rooms

Hans Siebers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Superdiversity has become a popular term to depict the societal impact of migration in Europe, but does its heuristic value justify its popularity? The term superdiversity seems to be important to many scholars, but is it relevant to the lived experiences and applicable to the reality of migrants and non-migrants in societal institutions like education? This article aims to assess this heuristic value by applying superdiversity's connotations to findings of 125 interviews with students and teachers of a Dutch university of applied sciences. The two different configurations of diversity found, i.e. commonplace diversity and essentialist diversity, question superdiversity's heuristic value. First, students do not experience diversity as something exciting or 'super' or positive, as superdiversity authors suggest. Their main concerns, i.e. to enjoy education and to construct their identities in line with institutional demands, are not covered by the notion of superdiversity. Second, key descriptive meanings associated with superdiversity do not make sense to these configurations of diversity, i.e. discarding the ethno-focal lens and expectations of more or new and multilayered complexity. Findings point to conviviality, creolization, ethnic boundaries and groupism, not to superdiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-691
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Commonplace diversity
  • education
  • ethnic boundaries
  • ethnicity
  • superdiversity
  • ERA


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