Local Residents at Home in an Increasingly Global City: How does the increasing internationalisation of Amsterdam's population influence the place attachment of long-term Dutch residents of Amsterdam Westerpark?
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Amsterdam is home to a growing population of international residents that live in the city for a limited period of time – such as expats, international students and other groups of (mostly Western) temporary migrants. Although this contemporary population development is rather significant and (local) media outlets frequently report on it, there is a lack of scientific research on how this trend is perceived by the Dutch population of the city. To investigate how long-term Dutch residents perceive possible influences of the growing share of temporary foreign residents on the city and on the way they feel at place, this study poses the following research question: How does the increasing internationalisation of Amsterdam's population influence the place attachment of long-term (>10 years) Dutch residents of Amsterdam Westerpark on both the neighbourhood level and the city level? In order to answer this question, a comprehensive literature study is executed and 21 in-depth interviews with long-term residents of Amsterdam Westerpark are conducted. The most important finding of this study is that the increasing internationalisation of the Amsterdam population does not substantially influence the place attachment of long-term Dutch residents of Westerpark. There are, however, large individual differences in how this population trend is perceived among Dutch residents – whereas some love it, others resent it. The vast majority of the Westerpark residents fosters moderately positive opinions towards this trend, as they generally welcome international influences as an added value to the city. However, the same majority of the residents also voices critical notes on several aspects of the internationalisation development – which indicates a certain ambivalence among a large share of the Amsterdammers. Especially the proliferation of the English language, the effects on the housing market, and the rather limited and superficial social contacts with temporary foreign residents are mentioned frequently as downsides of this development that are not appreciated. Overall, however, the majority of the Westerpark residents is all right with the current presence of temporary foreign residents in the city and the neighbourhood. Above all, it does not negatively affect their overarching place attachment or sense of home – with the exception of small share of the residents that is predominantly critical about the development. Finally, this study advices to take the sentiments and opinions of long-term Dutch residents into account when developing policies aimed at attracting (highly skilled) foreign residents to Amsterdam – something which hitherto is largely overlooked.