LDE GMD win NWA Grant: "We believe that increasing our understanding of doing diversity in practice will help grasp how policies can enhance social cohesion"

We sat down for a brief interview with Prof. dr. Marlou Schrover to discuss her (and the Consortium's) successful NWA grant application for the Dilemmas of Diversity research project. We speak to Marlou about the ambitions of the project, how the interdisciplinary nature of the LDE GMD contributed to the successful application and what the Consortium is most looking forward to in the research.

In a nutshell, what is the ambition and aim of this research? And why do you think this proposal has been awarded?

The research springs from talks with a large number of people (representing NGOs, care workers, civil servant, policy makers). Mostly, without using the word, they were puzzled with what we call in the project 'doing diversity'. They wanted to or had to develop and implement diversity policies, but how to do that was frequently not clear. The same applied to measuring the outcomes of such policies. Very frequently, policies were labelled a failure and new policies were developed without it being clear why and how policies had failed. The mantra of repeated failure undermines the trust in policy makers, and the workings of democracy. The diverse needs of the population and the necessity to make decisions about how to do diversity makes it often difficult to know which approach to take.

We take a novel approach that departs from former diversity research, which is mostly focused on one form of diversity, and either on the implementation of policymaking or on citizen perceptions. Instead, we focus on the middle, where diversity policies meet practices. We believe that increasing our understanding of doing diversity in practice will help grasp how policies can enhance social cohesion and identify whether, and if so, how and why the misfit between policy design and policy practice may explain why diversity policies are so often discarded as ‘failing.’

To what extent has the collaborative and interdisciplinary context of LDE GMD contributed to making a successful application?

Simona Vezzoli, in her function as LDE GMD Research Officer has played a key role in writing the proposal. Further to this, the NWO, in its call, used a framework which had to be used in the application, that was known to some of the disciplines included in the LDE GMD, and this helped when writing the proposal. The LDE GMD partners also had large networks which we used to find the large number of partners participating in our project. Lastly, LDE GMD partners provided feedback and input and co-authored the proposal. As such, this is clearly a collaborative project.  

What is it that you are most excited about or looking forward to, regarding this project?

All partners have shown great enthusiasm and involvement in the project. They have also come up with really new and great ideas and novel ways of communicating outcomes. I think this is a great team to work with.

What would you say to people interested in the research project and already want to know more about it?

They can always reach out to us/me. Some people have already done so.