Open access peer-reviewed chapter

An Explorative Perspective on the Resilience in Neighborhoods in the Netherlands

Written By

Hendrik Marten Koolma and Catharina Frederika van Dreven

Submitted: 02 June 2021 Reviewed: 10 June 2021 Published: 23 July 2021

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.98818

From the Edited Volume

Sustainable Housing

Edited by Amjad Almusaed and Asaad Almssad

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In this contribution we intend to shed light on the social dimension of sustainability. Thereby, we follow adhere to the goals for sustainable development as issued by the United Nations. The majority of the goals concerns social topics in the national societies. We intend to research in what way resilience lead to social progress and, through that, to sustainability. The attainment of the goals is hindered by the phenomenon of negative spillover effects between countries. In addition, we assume the presence of intra-national spillover effects which means that advancements in some areas are accompanied by deteriorations in other parts of the country. The negative effects concentrate and accumulate disadvantages into distinct neighborhoods. Inhabitants who try to overcome the disadvantages can be fostered in their resilience by beneficial interventions and conditions. However, they will be faced with impeding interventions and conditions as well. A case in the Netherlands shows that by resilience inspired policy reforms rather inflict additional problems on disadvantaged inhabitants. A set of interviews with key persons sheds light on the question of how resilience in the neighborhoods could be fostered instead. It requires support of individuals who take the initiative to improve the living conditions of themselves and others. The processes need some guidance by professional workers who do relate to everyday live in the neighborhoods, and who build relationship op the basis of trust. In their situational work, they need to be enabled and backed by their superiors.


  • resilience
  • sustainable development goals
  • social ecology
  • trust
  • distrust
  • social comparison

1. Introduction

The chapter will set out the theoretical foundation for the concept of resilient neighborhoods as the core of social sustainability. Resilience is more than bouncing back after an experience of adversity. It paves the way for social progress. However, social progress is not only promoted but also impeded by social and institutional processes that shape interventions and create conditions. These processes can undermine the sustainability of neighborhoods and inflict losses of social and economic capital. At the same time, the neighborhood might be the level on which conflicting processes still are comprehensible and amenable.

This chapter has three sections. The next session contains an elaboration on the concept of resilience. A combination of personality research, developmental psychology, and social ecology place resilience in a person-in-environment system in which personals attributes and social institutions interact. In this adaptive system counterintuitive processes occur due to the interplay of trust and distrust and to social comparison. In this way, we point out which social and institutional processes shape interventions and conditions encompassing resilience. The section concludes with the research question and a conceptual model. In Section 3, national reports on policy reforms in the social domains will be analyzed on the relation between by resilience inspired state policies and the outcomes in terms of equality and justice. The sustainable development goals of the United Nations provide a frame of reference for the topics. In Section 4, the role of resilience in Dutch society is discussed on the basis of 10 semi-structured interviews with a selection of key persons involved in sustainable cities and initiatives in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Overall, an explorative study is conducted in order to probe and advance the approach of the social sustainability of neighborhoods and cities.


2. Theoretical framework

When one thinks about sustainability of neighborhoods, the first reflex will generate associations with technical innovations and the necessity of coping with the threats of climate change. In this contribution, the scope is on a social approach of sustainability, encompassing scientific disciplines like social ecology, social systems theory and psychology. We hold the presupposition that the ecological success of man in comparison to other animals can be attributed to a superior tool making ability, whereby the processes of social tool making (knowledge sharing, norms, institutions, and joint moral reflection) are lagging and fail to control, align, and fairly distribute the benefits and humanitarian costs of technical progress. Here, we advocate for a broader approach of sustainability in order to develop the potentialities of man is his or her environment. Thereby, a key mechanism is the resilience of inhabitants of neighborhood, cities and smaller settlements.

2.1 Sustainable development goals and spillover effects

A relation between sustainability and resilience of neighborhoods is found in the United Nations’ framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals were established in a general meeting of the United Nations on September. 15, 2015 and entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ [1]. In this international agreement, goals are extended to social and economic dimensions of human society by putting social sustainability in the centre [2]. We attempt to follow this line of argument by taking neighborhoods as the central point of view, embodied by goals 11: ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’. On the geographical level of urban neighborhood and rural settlements, the advancements, stagnations, or deteriorations on other goals will manifest themselves as well (Table 1).

Description Sustainable Development GoalsSocial dimensionsPhysical dimensionsGoals which may affect realization of Goal 11
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainableMain subject
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Table 1.

Sustainable development goals United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development [1].

Of this goals, numbers 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 and 15 are directly related to natural and cultivated environment. The targets of these goals are lagging far behind and seem impossible to achieve in due time frame [2]. The check marks in the rightmost column indicate that the results on the respective goal facilitates or hinders the achievements on goal 11.

In the trajectories of transformation, geographical spillover effects occur when countries’ actions have a positive or negative effects on other countries’ ability to achieve the SDGs. Such international spillovers are pervasive [3], including examples in which growing wealth in some countries counteract the progress on the SDGs in other countries [3]. The concept of spillover effects is the equivalent of externalities in economics. It is based on the mechanism that agents achieve to book revenues on their own account, while passing on the costs to the private accounts of others and to the common account of society. The mechanism drives depletion of natural resources and block the way of people to prosperity, as asserted 50 years ago by Hardin and the Club of Rome [4, 5]. It is, in Hardin’s words, a tragedy that we fail to manage the commons [6] and to exstablish a social order that control spillover effects. The noxious effects are driven by extra-ordinary profits of frontier agents and their opportunistic followers. The spillover effects occur in transnational trade and in the relationships between powerful and less powerful nation states [3].

Another concern is that the efforts on physical sustainability, though very urgent, will be done without consideration of the social aspects of sustainability [3]. Thus, negative spillover effects can emerge in the relationship between goals, an argument to integrally plan and implement efforts on a geographical scale on which spillover effects are communicable and manageable. In addition, we presume that on the intra-national level spillover effects occur as well. Progress on the SDG’s in some regions of countries and cities are made at the ‘expense‘of other parts of the country. An accumulation of problems and unbalanced distribution of adversity and generation of environmental stressors may be result.

2.2 The concept of resilience and its implications

In recent years, resilience of neighborhood has become a buzz word. A Google search scores 219 million hits. In the Dutch public administration and societal sectors, resilience gets on the agenda [7, 8]. We want to take up this concept in a way that it can be assigned to social progress. This conception is proposed in motivational and development psychology by Block and Block [9], Carver [10], and Luthar et al. [11]. These authors deviate from the mainstream of research in which resilience is specifically related to overcoming events of adversity [12, 13]. Resilience does not only involves bouncing back to the original state [14, 15], but moreover, to an improved level capability and adjustment to the social and physical environment.

Carver holds that this surpassing of the original state, termed psychological thriving, reflects gains in skills, knowledge, confidence, or a sense of security in personal relationships. He assumes further, that ‘personal differences in confidence and mastery are self-perpetuating and self-intensifying’ ([10], p. 245). This an example of psychological reinforcement. People are more likely to surpass to an improved level, when they map and oversee the situation of the downturn and conceive a developmental challenge for themselves [10]. When unexpected problems occur during some action, one is forced to learn more than one has learned before. Hence, people develop new courses of action, they will be more flexible in coping with new, unknown events. These flexibilities can even build on each other ([10], p. 252). However, the transfer of the attainments by resilience from one domain to another is not a matter of course [16].

In his explanation, Carver emphasizes that resilience requires both processing of negative information on the situation as a search for opportunities that helps to find a way out. In a social ecological account, resilience is predominantly related to opportunities for personal growth ([13], p. 14). In contrast, another social ecologist definines resilience as ‘as a relative resistance to environmental risk experiences, the overcoming of stress or adversity, or a relatively good outcome despite risk experiences ([17], p. 34). Following Carver’s argument, the analysis and understanding of the risk experience is a necessary element of resilience, because it promotes learning of the interaction with the social and physical environment and prevents a falling back into similar situations of adversity and stress. In this purport, we would like to substitute ‘despite risk experience’ by ‘due to understanding of the risk experiences’ in the definition of Rutter.

Although fostering communities do contribute to resilience of individuals, we prefer to study resilience in neighborhoods instead of resilience of neighborhoods. Rutter states: ‘It is certainly appropriate to conceptualize influences at a community level, but resilience as an outcome is still better viewed in terms of individual outcomes’ ([17], p. 35).

Ungar criticizes a simple model of an individual who overcomes adversity by his personal faculties for resilience. Instead, he has developed a formal model in which social institutions, like family, schools, and commuities determine the conditions under which a person succeeds to be resilient [13]. In contrast, we hold thatIndividual differences in personality and life histories do matter as well (see [9, 17]). When variables and measures are carefully choosen, both individual psychological properties and environmental circumstances determine in interaction whether or not and to which degree adversity is successlully overcome by persons living in stressful and disadvantaged neighborhoods [18]. Still, it is necessary to distiguish between resiliency as property of personality and resilience as process [13]. Here we chose to study resilience as a process within a holistic person-in-environment system [19].

It is remarkable that a forty year old conception of personality appears to be a variable that significantly contribute to resilience in neighborhoods [9, 18], where other personality indicators failed to be discriminating in results [13]. Block and Block have based their personality inventory on two conceptsL: ego-control and ego-resiliency. Ego-control is conceived as a continuum between the two extremes undercontrol and overcontrol. In the extremes, overcontrol is associated with diseases like depression, whereas undercontrol is related to expressions of aggression [20]. Ego-resiliency refers to the dynamic capacity of an individual to modulate his or her modal level of ego-control, in either direction, as a function of the demand characteristics of the environmental context” ([9], p. 48).

Since 1980, the study of personality research and its biological foundation has made advancements. Although the terms undercontrol and overcontrol suggest a straight linear dimension, ego-control consists of two separate dimensions and independent brain systems [21]: the behavioral-activation system (BAS) and the behavioral inhibition system (BIS). The two systems regulate the approach/avoidance reflex onto attractive respectively threatening objects and subjects in in a person’s psychical and social situation. People show differing proportions of BIS and BAS [22], whereby a slightly higher level of BAS presumably supports resilience. People need some optimismic inclination in the approach of new competencies [23].

When the levels diverge considerably and the environment provides impactful aversive or attractive stimuli, either BIS or BAS will be suppressed, resulting in disinhibition repsectively deactivation. When suppression of BAS or BIS occurs, people will hardly process either negative or positive information anymore. This two dimensional brain process explains the finding by Driessen and Beerenboom that dissatisfying urban living conditions like housing defects and serious disturbances around one’s house like neighbor nuissance impede the appreciation of qualitative assets and novelties in the neighborhood [24].

In addition to Gray, Boyce and Ellis have found an u-curved biological sensitivity for negative (threatening) and positive (protective) environments. People gifted with a bi-directional sensitivity and grown up with a mixture of modest encouraging and disappointing experiences, are more flexibile and have higher tolerance levels for unexpected experiences [25].

Finally, ego-resiliency is more of less equivalent to self-regulation [13]. Self-regulation is a motivational, though predominantly unconsciously operating resource [26]. Self-regulation helps to downregulate negative affect during trail-and-error cycles. With each succesfull iteration, the resource expands. However, enduring stress, for instance by working on a job beyond one’s competence, the resource can be depleted [27]. At any moment, people suddenly breakdown personally, in their social relations, or deviate, at the spur of the moment, from norms of their occupational environments [28].

2.3 Interventions fostering and impeding resilience

In the modeling of Ungar, social institutions shape the positive conditions for resilience. In addition, we contend that social institutions may impede as well person’s faculties for finding successful responses to adverrsity and stressors. For instance, Ungar discusses a study in which accultured migrants, in their ambition to participate in society, self-report on their well-being inferioir to less accultured migrants in the same neighborhood. He contributes this paradoxal finding to social comparison processes [13].

Too protective and too neglective parenting or care-giving both deprive children from learning by success and failure after taking modest risks [29, 30, 31]. Veroff and Veroff [31] illustrate their argument with an example that can be used to understand the choice of appropriate care and subsequent interventions. A young child is reaching for an object but does not succeed and becomes frustrated. A protective parent will get it and give it to the child just the way. A resilience fostering parent waits for an inattentive moment of the child, then places the object within reach, and encourages the child to try again. Veroff and Veroff propose the concept of pacing, implying that the balance between protection and challenge is adjusted to the person’s stage of development and learning speed [31].

We propose to build up an argument from a social system perspective. The institutions are elements in the person-in-environment system that shape conditions for the person and seek to intervene in his or her attempts to overcome disadvantages. Because of the complexity of a person-in-environment system, they are forced to follow strategies that reduce its complexity. An obvious strategy, is abstracting from the paradoxical fact that interventionists themselves are a part of the system as well. By doing so, the intervention is mediated as it were performed in a lower order system like a control-regulated home heating system. The outcome of this strategy are likely to be rather unpredictable because of fact taht the subjects perceive this strategy and attribute intentions to it. In his treatise on rationality, Luhmann [32] distinguishes the next complexity reducing strategies:

  • Goal-means rationality

  • Opportunity oriented rationality

  • Value oriented or intention-guided rationality

  • Problem-to-solution rationality

Goal-means rationality is based on hierarchal way of thinking, has an almost unlimited potential for expansion in detail, but is inflexible [32] and based on the antipode of resilience, namely anticipation [33]. The application of this kind of rationality is not per se conflicting with resiliece. For instance, legislation can safeguard fundamental rights, policy programs can mobilize and distribute resources, resources can be warranted by evaluation procedures, and schooling standards may offer challenges to deprived children. Opportunism seemingly associates with challenges, but pure opportunism detaches from the original situation, and all occasional side effects and long-term consequences [32]. Resilience is not served well by sole attention to assets while neglecting the exposure to stressors and risks [13, 17]. Value oriented and problem-to-solution rationality seems mostly suited for fostering of resilience in persons. However, both require an interchange with the value configurations, the problem perceptions and the opportunity preference of the addressed person. The adaption of the care intervention to the needs and hopes of a client requires an unconditional and unpremeditated exchange of information, a requirement that would be met by interpersonal and institutional trust.

Trust is a complexity-reducing interaction mechanism as well [34]. In elaboration of Luhmann, Lewicki and colleagues have proposed a two-dimensional conception of trust and distrust [35]. Trust is operent when agents are willing to approach eachother in social relationships, while distrust relects an avoidant attitude. Thr tendidencies can coexist in a relationship. In a matrix the authors render the four combination of trust (high/low) and distrust (high/low) (see Figure 1). High trust combined with low distrust shapes the condition for high-value congruence, interdependence, pusuit of opportunities and new initiatives. Low-trust in combination with low-distrust limites the assets of the relationship to bounded, árm-length transactions, while the combination of high-trust and high-distrust induces a fragmented and calculating exchange [35].

Figure 1.

Elaboration on the trust-distrust matrix of [35].

To our opinion, the latter two options reflect goal-means and opportunistic strategies of institutions. The combination of low trust and low distrust reflects the attidude of courteous professionals and neutral public officials. In their benevolence, they try to be objective, and do not invest in a relationship with clients or citizens and fail to adjust to personal specificities. The combination of high trust and high distrust Is found in the behavior of opportunistic agents. Like salesmen, they build relations in order to retrieve information on opportunities and risks, but preemtively take the opportunities while averting the risks to the counterpart. Neither of both strategies is well-suited to foster resilience.

In a state of low-trust and high-distrust, undesirable eventualities are expected and feared of, harmful motives are assumed, and the behavioral expressions diverge between preemption and paranoia. The mental state of a distrusting person Is characterized by fear, skepticism, cynism, wariness, and watchfulness [35].

We have added the antonyms anticipation and resilience of Douglas and Wildavsky [33] and the development from infant’s dependency to interdependence of Veroff and Veroff [31].

The two-dimensional model of Lewicki and coworkers is supported by neuroimaging research [36], and can be regarded as an instance of the BIS-BAS interaction. Dimoka’s study relates distrust to the fast, evolutionary older brain regions, while trust is regulated from slower parts of the modern brain. The finding is in accordance with common sayings about trust and distrust. Anyway, building of trust in a care-giving relation will often be a laborious affair.

2.4 Research question, modeling, and leveraging processes

Summarizing, we come to the next question for our research:

Which conditions and interventions foster respectively impede the resilience of people in disadvantaged neighoods in their search for outcomes that contributes to their personal development and reshape conditions and interventions to the benefit of themselves and of others? In addition, in what way do impeding conditions and interventions reinforce the disadvantages of people in the neighborhoods? (Figure 2).

Figure 2.

Conceptual model for resilience in disadvantaged neighborhoods002E.

The model for resilience in neighborhoods is conceived as a complex adaptive system. There is a public belief in leverage points. That are places in social and ecological systems were a small intervention may cause a big change [37]. Experienced adaptive systems researchers warn for the phenomenom that members within such a systems are capable of pointing out a leverage point, but choose intervention that affect change in the wrong direction. Leverage points tempt to be counterintuitive [37].

The trust/distrust matrix of Lewiecki and colleagues embodies a counterintuitive leverage point. Interventions from low distrust can be countereffective while interventions from high trust can be disadvantageous when crosswisely matched with the options of the other dimension. Second, we put to the fore the generic process of social comparison. Humans seek peers in order to compare abilities, opinions, and attributes. However, as opinions are more easily formed than abilities are improved, opinions come to substitute the evaluation of the abilities. As consequence, homogeneoused groups become indifferent to outcomes, inaccesible to newcomers with other opinions and attributes and ignorant of information from other groups [38]. An evolutionary process that originally would drive the learning of motor and speech acts, and of cognitive, social, and occupational skills is easily turned into a mechanism that enhances exclusion and an indifference to negative outcomes for others.

Social comparison makes communities ambivalent in their orientation as well. Granovetter has pointed at the importance of ties of members of peergroups to other groups. Within the group information is predominantly reduced to opinions and directed to conformity, wheres agents who openly connect to other groups obtain richer information [39]. In addition, Thagard [40] argues that peer-different connections are more valuable in the search for corroborative knowledge than peer-similar ones. Both contributions adocate for diversity and dynamics in social action.


3. Resilience of inhabitants of Dutch neighborhoods

In this section, we introduce the case of Dutch neighborhoods on the basis of reports of institutes related to or working in commission of the Dutch government. The aim of the case study is to understand the contribution of governmental policies on other sustainable development goals to the resilience in neighborhoods. Hence, the starting point is the reporting of the United Nations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Netherlands.

3.1 Negative trends regarding sustainable development goals in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the data collection is serviced by Statistics Netherlands [41]. In Table 2 we show the sub-goal indicators that display deterioration in the development, while assuming that negative developments will be more manifest in disadvantage neighborhoods of the country. Table 2 Excerpt of Sustainable Development Profile of the Netherlands ([42], p. 350), with additional national indicators [41].

SD GoalsSDG Profile: deteriorating indicators in the NetherlandsAdditional deteriorating SDG indicators Statistics Netherlands
1 No PovertyChildren (0–12 years) raised up in poverty
People worrying about making ends meet
2 Zero HungerPrevalence of obesity
Human Trophic Level
Sustainable Nitrogen management
Intensive farming livestock
Spillover of chemical crop protection
Antibiotics in livestock farming
Food waste
3 Good Health and Well-beingGap in self-reported health status by incomeExpenditures on healthcare
Alcohol consumption
Vaccination coverage (0–2 years)
Mental health
Self-reported health (12+ years)
4 Quality EducationVariation in science performance explained by socio-economic status
Underachievers in science
Expenditures on education
Use of pre-school daycare
Termination without grade
Mid-level education grades
Reading capabilities pupils*
5 Gender EqualitySeats held by women in national parliamentDifference in income level women
Physical and sexual violence against women
7 Affordable and Clean EnergyShare of renewable energy in total primary energy supplyEnergy consumption
Energy from fossil energy sources
Energy costs per household
8 Decent Work Economic GrowthUnemployment
Unused employment potential
Hours worked per week*
People worrying about employment
10 Reduced inequalitiesFamily contacts
Participation in associations
Contribution to voluntary sector
Population share youth (0–19 years)
Expenditures on healthcare
Expenditures on social protection
11 Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesCosts of housing*
Experiences of displeasure in public space*
Claim on space
Expenditures on protection of environment
Emission of acidifying substances
Exposure to particulate matter
Victimization by crime
Experiences of insecurity
12 Responsible consumption and productionMunicipal garbage disposal
People worrying about the environment
13 Climate ActionEnergy-related CO2 emissionsReduction of CO2 emissions*
16 Peace, Justice, and Strong InstitutionsNumber of policemen
Population share of detainees
Underaged suspects
Expenditures on public service
Jobs covered by collective agreements
Perception of corruption

Table 2.

Negative trends in realization of sustainable development goals in the Netherlands.

Substantial disadvantage compared to other capabilities indicators in EU-ranking.

Rather remarkable is Netherlands 8th score in the list of netted negative spillover effects generating countries. An explanation can be found in the state policy of facilitating transnational tax evasion. A and for instance, in the contribution of Dutch agriculture companies to deforestation in the Amazon. Moreover, the Netherlands is at the bottom of the EU league with regard to climate action. This score is rather puzzling. Of its territory, 26% is below actual sea level and 29% is susceptible to river flooding [43]. The relationship between risk exposure and climate action in the Netherlands is giving rise to speculation: Is it short-sightedness, is the problem too large to face, or is it an expression of free riding on efforts of other states? In this chapter, we leave the questions unresolved. Rather, we follow the idea that ‘the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost in the cities.’1

3.2 Sustainable cities and communities

The United Nations have called to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. For tenants. The costs of housing relative to household income have increased since 2012 from a comparatively high level of 36.2% to 38.1%, whereas the costs for home-owners have decreased. Since 2012 as well, indicators for safety and other environmental stressors show deterioration in acknowledged disadvantaged neighborhoods, whereas other neighborhoods show a modest improvement [44]. Recently, the selective downgrading of the disadvantaged neighborhoods has given rise to serious concern of the Dutch government. The political attention is drawn to areas where ‘combinations and cumulations of problems in schooling, employment, poverty, inclusion, safety, subversive crime, housing, and health’ occur [45]. The negative trends on several SDGs and indicators prove to be concentrated in specific neighborhoods and cities. Closer look makes clear that there are 16 urban areas assigned, containing several neighborhoods. In these areas, almost a million people live ([45]: Annex). According to the Minister of Interior Affairs, residents, entrepreneurs and professionals in these neighborhoods are in the lead in the search for varying tailor-made solutions [45].

In a report titled ‘Resilience in social housing’, an analysis has been made of the causes of the downgrading of these neighborhoods [8, 46]:

  • A nation-wide process of urban reconstruction has dimished the quantify of low-rent housing stock and reduced the stock to in specific areas.

  • The Dutch government has issued legislation at the end of 2010 holding a restriction in the allocation of social housing to low-income households.

  • Reforms in the mental healthcare have caused a displacement of clients from protected institutions to low-rents housing, although clients concerned were expectedly vulnarabile to stressfull environments in which the low-priced housing is located.

  • A part of the disturbances of livability in the neigborborhoods can be attributed to the influx of these former clients, just like the presence of enduring unemployed people.

  • When cooperation in the neighborhoods between social housing providers, municipality officials, and care employees fails, the vicious circle of cumulating problems is not reversed.

To this summary could be added that the price range of the social housing has been upleveled and narrowed just below the limites of the governmental surtax on for tenants. Households that are faced with a drop of income, sudden unemployment and personal debts can not move to cheaper homes, while at the same time they are entangled in conditions of the surtaxes on housing and other public services.

Van Gent and Horstenbach argue that the combination in the legislation of taxation of the social housing institutes and the restriction of the allocation to low-income groups has caused a residualisation of the Dutch social housing sector [47]. Nieuwenhuis and colleagues classify the Netherlands in a middle group between countries with high and low social-spatial segregation. From the middle group people manage to succeed in social mobility to less disadvantaged neighborhoods. However, the analysis regards the period from 2001 to 2011 [48]. From 2012, the social-spatial segregation in the Netherlands has increased considerably. Expectedly, the opportunities for social mobility from the worst to better neighborhoods will have been decreased proportionally.

Another addition is that the access of low-income groups to low-priced home owned houses has deteriorated as well. The market for low-priced houses is reduced by price-inflating taxation policy of the Dutch goveernment as well as by redlining of neighborhoods [49]. Redlining means that banks and other suppliers of mortgages refuse to credit applicants in marked urban areas. In a report of the Dutch national bank, redlining is considered as a practice that undermines financial stability [50]. However, redlining is still a problem to the resilience of neighborhoods [51]. Moreover in specific neighborhoods, adjacent to social housing areas, private home owners are generally and grossly outbid by shady real estate agents who utilize the houses for extortion of unregistered migrant employees [52].

The report of Leidelmeijer et al. [8] contains an advocacy for social sustainability that would be warranted by personal and communal resilience. The plea resonates influential reports of 15 years ago [44]. First, the scientific advisory board of the Dutch government issued a call for trust cooperation within neighborhoods [53]. The main idea was that institutions would be reshaped and enabled to trustworthily deliver appropriate and connected services to the citizens. This advise is reflected in SDG goal 16 regarding accountable, inclusive, and effective institutions. Second, the former advisory board for housing, spatial planning, and environment has proposed to reconsider the physical reconstruction policy. A social-oriented policy were more apt to promote upward social mobility within the borders of the neighborhoods and would be more directly contributing to community building than gentrification would do. In this report, education is pointed out as a major carrier of social progress and a main route to paid employment [54].

Other SDG goals, like full productive employment and decent work for all (SDG 8) and reduction of inequality (SDG 10) have been subject of a policy reform in the Netherlands. However, the implementation by means of three decentralizations in the social domain is regarded as one of the circumstances that allegedly have contributed to an increase of vulnerable people in low-income neighborhoods [55]. In next section, we elaborate on these policy reforms.

3.3 Inclusive and equitable education and lifelong learning opportunities

In the Netherlands, the SDG report on education displays an increase of inequality, as variation in performance in science is increasingly explained by socio economic status. Another indicator shows that the Netherlands fall behind in excellence, implying that talent of pupils and students is decreasingly brought to full development [42]. In a international survey of learning performance of 15 year olds in OESO countries, Dutch pupils show a decline in perfomance in mathemetics and natural sciences, and to a greater extent in reading [56]. An other survey displays that less primary school pupils in their grading year (12 year olds) meet the reference level for reading. It is stated that almost a quarter of the Dutch pupils lack the reading abilities required for being articulate citizens. In the OESO survey, Dutch puplis, and more specifically boys, are to a lesser degree able to evaluate and reflect on texts. Further, there is a remarkable low score on reading motivation [56].

In addition, we expect that the reading deficits will discourage lifelong learning by upgrowing Dutch citizens. Knowledge, in a broad sense, accumulates step by step, not by hapzardly retrieving of unassessed information. Jumping to conclusions and polarization of opinions in peer groups are not precluded by reading experience. Unassessed use of information is more likely to occur if the experience is absent. Regarded in this way, the poor reading motivation and experience will negatively contribute to societal stability.

A clear analysis of the ine inequal learning opportunities is provided by the Dutch education authority [57, 58]. At the end of the primary school, pupils from low-educated and from non-western migrant families are underrated by primary school staffs, while children from backgrounds similar to the school staffs are overrated. Over a longer period recurrent studies have provided this finding. Until 2017 scores on a end-term test reduced this inequality in the admittance to higher levels of secundary education. Further, underrating and overrating was found to be corrected in the first 3 years of the secondary schools, provided the availability of transfer options at the secundary schools [58]. In the chain of cascades through the educational system to employment, children from families with little education and migrant ancestry lapse to lower levels at every cascade, resulting in low emplyment rates after educatiom [57].

The education authoriy point at neighborhood effects and sorting out between white and colored schools. Some schools manage to sustain a more diverse population. The quality of the education is not significantly related to the location of schools, however on some schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods, the turmoil in some classes and schools is so dominant that teachers can pay not enough attention to the learning by their pupils [57].

The Dutch education system is rather compartmented from an early age [59]. Differentiation is not adapted to personal learning speed and capacities. Additional need for education is arranged by parents through commisioning of private teachers or commercial providers. By this, children of high-income families have a considerable advantage, although lack of motivation is the strongest driver for additional education [58].

Recently, the national advisory board for education has advocated for a reform of the selection practice. Not at the early age of 12 year, but at the end of third year of the secundary school pupils should be sorted out for further education. To the age of 15, pupils would follow their courses in unsorted classes [59]. This design is more in accordance with international educational practices, particularly with higherly performing Scandinavian countries.

By forming of homogeneous classes and absence of individual learning trajectories, the Dutch education system is driven by social reference norms (see [31]). Comparative studies in other countries has shown that when teachers neither encourage nor challenge pupils individually, but instead, rely on social reference norms, they educate less students to a level of excellence, will have students with fear of success, will have more students with test anxiety, and generate less learning motivation [60]. Remakebly, these findings reflect the comparative profile of the Dutch education system rather recognizably. Another social comparison effect is found in the rating practice by primary-school staffs. Not the talent, motivation and the social–emotional potential of the pupil, but the socio-economic similarity between the school staff and his or her parents determines the rating. In spite of scientific evidence of the resulting inequality, these professionals did not have reconsidered their rating practice. Instead, a lobby of primary school leaders for neutralization of the end-term test results has been granted by the Dutch parliament.

3.4 Full and productive employment, decent work for all

Statistics Netherlands reports negative trends in SDGs 8 and 10. The employment potentiel of the Ducth population is increasingly underutitlized, and growing part of the jobs do not offer full employment nor the security of indefinite contracts. Further, the participation of people in social and societal activities is decreasing. Expenditures in (mental) health care and social protection display declining trends too. However, just these topics have been subject of a major policy reform in three social domains. In order to understand how this policy reform worked out since 2015, we will discuss policy evaluation reports. The aim is to understand how inititially resilience promoting reforms have turned into the countereffect of increased risk exposure of target groups and decreased opportunities to overcome their adversity.

From January 2015 the Participation Act is in effect, holding that people from disadvantaged positions should be guided to employment. The policy theory reflects the idea of fostering the resilience of people. The act intended to establish a uniform framework with some discretion for municipalities [61]. However, since the start of the reform these local actors were forced to realize savings on the aggregated national budget.

Due to the reform, young slightly diseabled persons are more frequently employed. However the income and job security are decreased considarbly through part-time employment and temporary contracts [61]. Decrease of full and secure emploument is a general trend in the Dutch labor market. However, these changes increases the risk of getting impairments in work [62]. Hence, the group of slightly disabled youngsters is exposed to a risk for which they are considerably more sensitive. Another target group of the act concerns persons employed in social protected workplaces. The idea was to guide these protected workers to regular employment. This transfer is not established succesfully. Persons lost their jobs and became depended on social assistance [61]. People living on social assistance found employment to a lesser degree, of an inferior quality, and with part-time cancelable contracts [61]. Inspite of legal and financial incentives, and of medical reassessments, people receiving the social assistance on the basis employment impairments appear to have almost no chance on reemployment in jobs adapted to their restricted capacities [63].

Summarizing, the government has overestimated the chances on regular and full employment for these groups. Furthermore, the policy theory was a generalization that misunderstood the individual and group-specific pacing needs. The savings on the budgets have urged municipalities to restrict their case load to clients with small problems and restrictions [61].

In 2015 as well, the Youth Act regarding the provision of mental health care for young peope was issued [64]. The procurement structures implemented, incent care organizations to behaviors that conflict with the purpose of care provision [64]. The compensation rules and administrative requirements promote a preference for clients with singular complaints. Clients with multiple and chronic complaints, including problems in their personal and social situations are less likely to be served. These clients and their personal supporters, if present, are faced with waitinglist and lack of timely mental health care. Their situation is considered as alarming [65].

At the start of 2015, the Social Support Act came into effect as well. The act aimes at a combination of formal and informal support in the housing and personal transport of people with physical and mental problems [66]. In evaluation research, there is no evidence that the personal budgets have contributed to self-reliance, participation or a higher quality of life [66]. Meanwhile, a part of the municipalities put little effort in checks on legality of applications, a condition that is associated with avoidable fraud [67]. There is a considerable likelihood to become involved into organized fraud, either as an accessory or as a vicitm [68].

3.5 Access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

This fragment of substainable development goal 16, is become a serious point of concern due to the affaire of the day-care surtax. A damning judgment by a parliamentary investigation commission has led to the resignation of the Dutch government at January 15th of 2021. The report was titled ‘Unprecedented Injustice’ [69]. Here, we only discuss facts and judgments in relation to the sustainable development goal. It is also an example of how a resilience promoting policy had led to the inflicting of disadvantages on citizens and the creation of institutional distrust.

The day-care surtax originates from 2005. It is introduced to promote participation of parents, particularly of the mothers in the labor market. The surtax depends on the proportion between income and costs of purchased day-care. In that way, the surtax was aimed to supports houselholds which have insufficient income for use of day-care. From the beginning, legality checks on the intake of applications were absent or, later on, provisional. The Dutch tax authorities relied on the article in the day-care surtax act, which allowed this state agency to reclaim advances for a period of five years. Arbitrarily, the tax authorities have figured out an ‘everything-or-nothing’ principle, meaning the response of an complete reclaim on any error in the application forms. The princinple excluded the option of a restatement of the level of surtax and the leniency of redemption arrangements. The principle is judged by the commission as being disproportional [69]. The effectuation of the reclaims has caused a cascade of household debts [70].

The title of the report is a reference to the fact that up to and including the highest national court the practice rules of the tax authorities have been confirmed. Therefore, the maltreated citizens have been excluded from access to justice as well [69]. Moreover, this crisis in the Dutch institutions is not yet revealed in full extent. It is reported and confirmed that clients with a double passport, being an indicator of a non-western migrant ancestry, is used to red flag surtax receiver on a personal attribute [71]. A following disclosure is the fact that tax authorities kept up and shared across three social domains a blacklist of 240,000 households or people of which attributes would predict fraud risks [72]. As the surtaxes serve to support the provision of basic needs of the household of which the incomes do not suffice, these people have been deliberately and multiply disadvantaged in their daily life. This state practice has, in spite of its inclusive goals, contributed to more inequality in the Dutch society.


4. Analysis of interviews

In this section, the resilience of residents in Dutch neighborhoods is analized on the basis of ten interviews with key persons. In the appendix, a short description is given of the interviewees and their involvement into the subject. In the report, randomly assigned letters refer to the ten interviewees. The reporting is in the order of the elements of the conceptual model. However, we start in the center of the model with the descriptions of the concept of resilience, as given by the interviewees.

4.1 In-practice definitions or resilience

Most interviewees relate the term resilience to social progress. C gives a rich description: ‘It is a wonderful word. It includes strength and optimism. It expresses dynamics. It dents in and out and brings you further. […] It helps to make connections. It is taking blowes as well’. According to A, resilience can be triggered by experiences of inequality. ‘You have to rely on your inner anchor’, says E. F adds to that: ‘It has to be tensive. If you cannot lose, you cannot win.’ However, some conditions have to be met in order to be resilient:. ‘Have attention for the problems. […] One needs to have a safe base. One needs to be sheltered and to have a basic income’, D states.

Remarkably some interviewees address individual differences in resiliency. Some people show no tendency to be resilient (A). ‘They are probably not self-reliant, nor will they become so. And (yet) we pretend that it will happen. Everybody resilient in the neighborhoods, everybody happy’, A relates. Used in this way, resilience has become an empty word, H states. Furthermore, F suggests to mobilize the silent force of modest people as well: ‘They are not the people who are always omnipresent in the commissions and meetings in the neighborhood.’ Resilience concerns the relationship between people and their environment: ‘What you inflicts on the planet, you inflict do on yourself. If you are not be aware of that, it becomes a zero sum game.’ It is a referral to spillover effects and lack of environmental responsibility.

4.2 Disadvantages in neighborhoods

The subject of resilience in the neighborhood addresses a growing inequality in the Netherlands. According to I, ‘The gap between haves and have-nots does not close, on the contrary, it becomes ever wider.’ A variety of problems is pointed out by the interviewees, including debts, lack of employment, (mental) health problems, social isolation, inequality in schooling, substance abuse, and the attraction of criminality. Nevertheless, interviewees object to present the people in the neighborhoods as chanceless (F), vulnerable (D) or weak (F; J). They warn to choose words carefully in order to avoid patronizing (D) and disparagement (E; F). Some people have simply so much problems at the same time that they cannot help but survive (J). Rather, in carrying their worries they show personal strength, but the situation ‘makes them ill of depression’(J). The interviewees agree on a concern for the problems of the inhabitants. Particularly, the accumulation of disadvantages takes away the perspectives for people. ‘The […] perspective is to live in a neighborhood where nobody is employed. That is no good […] Children, grown up in these circumstances, are deprived of perspectives and will become frustrated, G says. ‘It is anything but inspiring’, D adds to that. D points at the short-term orientation of people with debts. Even in the short-term, problems can take away perspective: ‘When you have every evening neighbor nuisance, you cannot make your homework. Three weeks of not making your homework, you do not pass on to the next year’ (F).

4.3 Opportunities and challenges

So, people need to have perspective to overcome their disadvantaged situations. The interviewees emphasize the necessity of granting initiatives that originate from the neighborhood. The initiatives find their strength in being intrinsicly motivated (C). Working on this basis provides people the ownership of the initiatives (C), and of the positive things that hppen in the neighborhood (B). The initiatives generate stories, the narratives in the neighborhood break through negativity (B), and stimulate to undertake more initiatives (C). For instance, young people gathered in the workshops, are challenged to new initiatives (B). ‘There are plenty of ideas and wishes by the people themselves’, A tells. ‘Of course, a small push helps’, A explains, ‘The small push comes from the environment. Whether it comes from the community, the municipality, the care institutions, the children, it does not matter. However, the small push is needful’. B calls it ‘guiding, showing something of the way to improvement’. It is challenging to return stories about problems to whom that express them. H replies regularly: ‘What can I do to help you? Then, they are going to reflect’.

In the support of young people, challenges start with attraction by activities in which they want to participate (B). For instances, sports, or debating sessions with politicians and other officials. A great attraction can be ‘the step from illiteracy to university’ (A). Families, and particularly mothers, show a drive to offer to the children of the neighborhood better conditions to live in, and to enable their social progress (A; B; E; J). Sisters happen to take a guiding role as well, even if it concerns the assistance of a brother at the police station (H).

4.4 Fostering interventions and conditions

Several interviewees state that fostering of resilience is established by interaction. A condition for interaction is the availabilities of places to gather and to meet. Municipalities can provide sports accommodations and community centers or more occasional facilities. Sometimes social housing corporations offer facilities as well (D; H; J). The interviewees differ in opinions on the question of whether the neighborhood as a whole facilitates interaction. For instance: ‘I do not believe in mixed housing. The idea [behind it] is that than things go better by itself. That is not true’ (J). This statement is substantiated by an example of a gated area with new expensive apartments. ‘People simply do not meet’, states J. Contrasting statements concern are explained by neighborhoods where a variety in social class has emerged over time. There, the interaction got going to the benefit of people (G; H). There is more agreement about the idea that the neighborhood is the level on which cooperation between institutions is amenable (A; C; D; G; J).

The interaction starts preferably by socializing. A direct, efficient approach can have an adverse effect: ‘Accept that people first come for drinking coffee or gaming at the community center. Just join them’ (A). ‘Close proximity. We need to think about how to organize that’, D says. ‘We have made a survey of social networks in the neighborhood. It appeared to be a myriad. […] Facilitate the networks. Avoid the reflex to take them over’, G says. B and F object to this reflex as well. ‘The city cannot handle this well, C states.

There is a common opinion that trust is the mechanism for fostering of resilience. ‘To be trusted by them, that would help’, J tells. Trust and tailor-made interactions are counteracted by accountability requirements’, A states. Just like other workers, a policeman who personally has taken the initiative to invest in relationships with young people in the neighborhood need to be granted with professional autonomy and need to be warranted in these interactions by his boss, J states. ‘In the frontline, it has to happen. There are a lot of people who want to participate’, J explains. ‘The reality is that the frontline work can be very tensive’, F adds to that.

One of the interviewees tells about initiatives in which young people participate and are learned to develop a variety of skills on the basis of their interest and talents. In some schools in the neighborhoods, engaged teachers and school directors try to work in this way as well. However, they cannot get things changed (J). F refers to Sweden, where pupils get individual trajectories. The school system over there is organized around the capacities and motivation of pupils. According to F, it starts with investments in the professional skills of teachers themselves. ‘There is a site that promotes their development’, F adds.

4.5 Positive outcomes

Two interviewees mention explicit examples of positive outcome (A; B). Examples of positive outcomes for participants in the initiatives are the development of skills like presenting yourself well, becoming sports coaches, and knowing the procedures to resolve conflicts with authorities. More intrinsic is the development of a feelings of ownership (B). It concerns responsibility for elderly in the neighborhood. By supporting the elderly individually, the participants succeed to take away prejudices about themselves. Before the program, the elderly only judged them by their bomber jacks and images from crime shows on the TV. The young people themselves feel responsible for the neighborhood, tells A.

Remarkably, the ability of self-reflection is mentioned. ‘People learn to realize that adversity and disadvantages are an unavoidable part of live’, tells B. Learning outcome includes coping with differences in opinions, F states. ‘How do you relate to these differences. It is not only what you thinks is right, but also what others think what is right. They can have a point’, F points out.

4.6 Reinforcement of personal resilience

In the conceptual model, a distinction is made between reinforcement of personal resilience and communal resilience. However, in a part of the examples, the reinforcement jointly addresses both levels of resilience. This is due to the ideas at the basis of the initiatives as well as the consequence of participants themselves, explain A and B. The reinforcement of personal resilience is the growth of the abilities to see the meaning in what are they doing, D tells. ‘The belief that you can influence the course of action in the neighborhood, the possibility of coining your own efforts, it all contributes to self-esteem’, F explains. It concerns ‘to be connected as individual to a meaningful whole’, F adds. It is a substantiation of the joined reinforcement as well.

4.7 Reinforcement of communal resilience

A common observation is that people who have made social progress in the neighborhood, want to return of it to the benefit of the community in the neighborhood. It is partly the result of an agreement at the start of participation into projects (B). This way of social return is institutionalized by the education of experience experts. However, the drive to contribute to communal resilience gets internalized or was intrinsic from the start. D gives a salient explanation: ‘I regard it as an intrinsic motivation by a group whose members have encountered hardship, a motivation to give something back. That makes not only yourself resilient, but also the community of which a part of’. However, D adds that a neighborhood needs a mix of people who serve communal resilience and people who do not succeed to overcome disadvantages by themselves.

As noted before, the women play a frontier role. Mother who have experienced and overcome disadvantages, have unionized in a part of the neighborhoods (J; B). Young women who have graded at the higher professional education and university, show responsibility for their family and the community H points at the fact that boys from disadvantages neighborhood perform less well on school. B relates it to barriers that children from non-Western migrant families encounter. Even boys who have taken the hurdle of primary school rating, often fail to grade on the top level of the secondary school’, B says to her regret.

4.8 Impeding interventions and conditions

In the set of interviews, this topic is 1.7 times more scored than fostering interventions and conditions has done. Moreover, the statements of the interviewees are less ambiguous. Almost all text fragments fit in obvious sub codings.

Inequality in the distribution of opportunities is mentioned by a large majority as a cause why people fail to be resilient. The rating by staffs of primary schools is mostly pointed at. Pupils of disadvantaged neighborhood receive lower ratings whereas other pupils receive high ratings. A personal example is given of an underrating of four levels. Parents with higher incomes, pay for training their children to higher test scores (E). It is not only this rating practice. ‘A part of the teachers of the secondary schools repeatedly tell pupils that they are a total loss. After some time they will lose the believe in themselves’, B relates. Some teachers are demotivated and feel misacknowledged in their professional autonomy. Furthermore, schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods are understaffed, underqualified, or both (H). Some respondents mention the bad relationship between police and boys from the neighborhood (B; J). ‘Why do you work in a neighborhood of which 97% of the population should not be in the Netherlands anyway?’, one interviewee asks rhetorically. The interviewee refers to opinions of policemen and teachers inspired by right-wing politicians.

Both interventions and conditions are affected by an incapacity or an unwillingness (J) of local officials to understand and relate to the everyday live in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Moreover, the individual differences in the problems of people, their social situations, their life stories and traits do not fit in a policy frame. For instance, people are advised to search for support in their social network, while they lack such a safety net. ‘Youth work at a community center is opened till 5 PM. Then it just starts. It is bureaucratized’, H states. As a consequence, interventions are chosen and conditions are shaped which impede people in their search for solutions and opportunities. There is clear majority that contributes to this explanation. People become entangled in what is described as an impeding bureaucracy. This observation as well is shared by most interviewees. A remarkable observation is that an organization in the frontline require employees to be bureaucratic competent in order to help people in their problems with other organizations (A). It is maybe a level problem. ‘To the city, the neigborhood is not a managable unit’, D holds.

Six interviewees critize the way of working by tendering and contracting. ‘There is more competition among welfare organizations than among private corporations’, B illustrates. Organizations are forced to compete instead of to cooperate. Organizations do not gather people, but launch concepts. It is smart but not wise to compete on quantify, B explains. In the interaction with local authorities business parlance is expressed such as unrolling and upscaling and talking about neighborhoods as were they businesses. ‘People are carriers of initiatives in the neighborhoods. You cannot upscale people’, A argues. ‘Not what is needed in the society, is leading. It saddens me’, C says.

Two interviewees signalize that people feel let down by the institutions (A; C). This feeling is expressed by white people with low incomes and little education as well. ‘People who feel like that, become susceptible for men who want to abuse their state of mind’, G relates. When inequality in normal resilience trajectories is experienced time by time, young people are more easily seduced by the luxury showed by peers who make a career in a criminal trajectories, G states.

Interviewees indicate distrust as a strong impediment. Public services are set-ip with distrust in citizens in mind (A; G). G refers to the day-care surtax affair. People in disadvantaged neighborhood, do not trust institutions anymore (J; G). In interactions with officials they get questions which display distrust. People have fear of consequences of such interactions, like getting your children out of custody (J). In contacts with commercial suppliers, the level playing field is absent. The examples of business fraud fuels a distrust in the neo-liberal policy of the government, E states.

Finally, two interviewees (C: G) state that local and national officials do not relate to the planet either. There is no response on initiatives in neighborhoods on sustainability, whereas the big opportunities for climate action like the international airport and the sea ports are unbothered (C). It is an example of what E calls a lack of level playing field in the society. E puts to the fore an ecological argument. ‘We impede resilience by creating monocultures, in housing (E; F), in agriculture (E). ‘Diversity is the element that contributes to resilience of social and ecological systems. Just that element we lose sight of’, E substantiates.

4.9 Inflicting more disadvantages

Through debates on public and social media, the experience of discrimination is enhanced (B; D). It induces fall back in problematic behavior by young people you are trying to keep out of the trouble, B and D say in equivocal phrases. Distrust is very contagious and reciprocal in interactions (B; D; J) The distrust showed by officials of some institutions, makes people averse of institutions in general. Through this avoidance additional problems will emerge (J). Inequality of opportunities on schools, the unequal risk of being halted or arrested (B; J), confirms boys and young men in their conviction that they will be discriminated permanently. It discourages a search for solutions of their other problems. The feeling of being let down by society expedites the step to substance abuse or delinquency, E argues. It makes problems rather unsolvable. Inflicting additional problems without any concern or empathy for the victims is in the heart a dehumanizing treatment of citizens, E adds.

4.10 Serendipities

‘Think great, act small’ is a slogan cited in one of the interviews. An example is displayed by a neighbor who fights for appropriate education of the talented daughter of his illiterate neighbors. Starting from the first people who succeed, a growing web of resilient citizens can activated to break through the adversity. Another insight is found in the metaphor ‘In the eye of the hurricane, it is quiet’. As soon as people try to improve their situations, they are faced by conditions of regulation which bounce them back in adversity. The metaphor holds as well for public officials and professionals who want to change detrimental practices. They are faced with misunderstanding, resistance, and counteracts. They have to be resilient themselves as well, and need to be supported by superiors with an open mind. However, ‘from a position of power, you cannot see resilience’. Change will require that people stand up, and emerge as leaders. The subject of change extends from social action to climate action. The inability and unwillingness of politicians and their officials to relate to citizens, to understand their needs, and to make use of their individual talent and collective initiatives perpetuates inaction.


5. Conclusion

The first question is which conditions and intervention foster resilience of people in disadvantaged neighborhoods? Interventions need to relate to the personal problems people experience and the oppportunites they see. A necessary condition is that they are supported by family, peers and, if necessary officials. The latter should be granted discreation and support by their superiors. Impeding interventions are characterized by an uncapacity or unwillingness to relate to everyday live in the neighborhoods. An impeding conditions is that professional and their organizations are forced to competition instead of cooperation. The incentives in the procurement are confllicting to fostering of resilience. The combination of misalignments generates institional distrust. Positive outcomes are found in personal development, training skills, and an increase of self-esteem. A feeling of ownership can be attained, just like the experience of being a relevant part of a meaningful whole. People who succeed to be resilient in disadvantaged neighborhoods exhibit a strong drive to return their success to the community. They contribute to less prejudice and more trust between groups. The dissemination of this success expand the positive communal outcomes. Impeding interventions and conditions inflict additional disadvantages on citizens. The lack of perspective frustrates people and discourages them in their search for positive outcomes. A generalized distrust becomes self-perpetuating, either in self-harming of other-harming strategies.

Sustainable development contribute to social progress and resilience in neighborhoods. However, fall backs in goal attainment manifest particularly in the less advantaged neighborhoods. The contrasting development of other neighborhoods and areas of the country suggests the occurance of intranational negative spillover efffects. This phenonom is observed in a country that is in the vanguard of countries that generates international negative spillover effects. A question for futher research is of whether international and intranational spillover relate and whether this relation is grounded in state policies. The presupposition that the neighborhood is a level amenable for communication and control is partly rebuted. Solutions for the disadvantages of citizens experience, will be sought for in interaction on that very level. However, the stream of disadvantages from countereffective reforms needs interruption on the national level. It is found that policy reforms that have promoted resilience have resulted in the reverse of resilience. The relevance of scrutinized ex-post policy evaluation is demonstrated in this study. Finally, we are stengthened in our conviction that social progress is a condition sine qua non for sustainability in general. It not only contributes to support for policies on climate action, it will be a sources for initiatives and cooperation across levels.


Mohamed el Achkar: Board member of Woonstad Rotterdam; Member of the Advisory board Prospect Fund.

Esther Agricola: Director of BPD (Area development). Former director of ‘Space and Sustainability’ department of the municipality of Amsterdam. Former director of KEI (knowledge centre for urban development).

Bouchra Dibi, Consultant and Researcher on disadvantaged neighborhoods. Former member of a municipal board. Formerly employed as social worker in Utrecht.

Ton Huiskens: Director ‘Werken aan de Stad’ (Social entrepreneur in social urban intiatives).

Hafida Leri: Director 2gather. (Social entrepreneur in deprived urban areas).

Arnold Molenaar: Resilience Officer at Resilient Rotterdam.

Hannan Moussaoui-el Garmouhi: Director Woonbron Delft Former manager Social work and Participation’ at the municipality of the Hague.

Karin Schrederhof: Alderman at the municipality of Delft, (in portfolio Housing and Social Work).

Suzanne Wacanno: Senior associate of The Natural Step (Corporation in sustainability).

Pieter Winsemius: Volunteer in several social projects. Former Minister of Housing Spatial Planning and Environment; Former member of the scientific board of the Dutch government (WRR).


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  • Eugenie Birch, Co-Chair of the SDSN Cities network and Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, attributing this line to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations from 2007-2016.

Written By

Hendrik Marten Koolma and Catharina Frederika van Dreven

Submitted: 02 June 2021 Reviewed: 10 June 2021 Published: 23 July 2021