Concepts, Research, Policy
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 20: Between Stigmatisation and Survival: Poverty Among Migrant and Non-migrant Lone Mothers in the Netherlands
Annelou Ypeij Remarkable as it may seem for one of the richest welfare states in the world, lone mothers in the Netherlands run a high risk of poverty. Though they may be entitled to social housing and benefits, their allowances are often too low to get by. Yet material deprivation is not the only challenge that lone mothers face. Poverty has many social and cultural dimensions, and for lone mothers this may mean that they are doubly stigmatised: as lone mothers who do not form a household with a man and as welfare recipients who supposedly take advantage of society. The Netherlands is increasingly becoming a multicultural society with a growing migrant population. This is reflected in the fact that lone mothers are not a homogeneous group. They have diverse cultural backgrounds. This chapter is based on qualitative interviews with almost 70 lone mothers who lived in Amsterdam at the end of the 1990s. They were low skilled and received a welfare allowance or an income from work at the social minimum level (Ypeij, 2009). My sample comprised black lone mothers who migrated to the Netherlands from Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles and white, ‘autochthonous’ mothers who were born in the Netherlands.1 While cultural differences among the women are noteworthy, and relate both to their access to social support and some practices of stigmatisation, the women share a class position and – in instances where they were married or cohabited with a man – experiences of dominant or even violent relationships with...
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