DUTCH PRESENT-DAY SOCIETY Fall semester 2003/2004 QUESTION 3 OF THE EXAM a few remarks: (R) Use your own words in formulating your answer. (R) Give references to page numbers where necessary. (R) Your answer will be about 500 words in length. (R) Hand in your answer, a) The first reason that Van der Horst displays in his work for the increasing loneliness within Dutch society is the depillarization within society. Therefore getting rid of secularization and enforcing individualism.
Van der Horst explains that the Dutch believe that this lack of contact with others is on the increase, because people previously were more united in groups. The religious pillars within society have broken down leading to a society where individualism is important and therefore an increase in loneliness and independence. People used to help each other but today Van der Horst believes they wish to help themselves. Secondly, Van der Horst sees that family networks have been destroyed, resulting in lack of family connections previously considered to be of great importance. The explanations to the breakdown's of family networks would be due to the modernisation of society, such as more efficient ways of travelling.
Thirdly, as consequences of the above old women become increasingly lonely due to loose family connections. Women have a tendency to out live men and therefore suffer in silence because of the way that the Dutch believe they should live. In other words keep both your happy times and sad times to yourself, you would not like to place a burden on others. b) According to Van der Horst one way in which the Dutch try to combat the aura of loneliness within the Netherlands is through taking part within associations. The explanation of going to these associations is that the Dutch culture rarely allows strangers to talk, and common grounding is an excellent place to strike up conversation and to have more friends or acquaintances. Other ways that the Dutch have tried to tackle loneliness in the Netherlands is through the rising of an apparent caring society. E lco Brinkman the politician for the Christian Democrats tried to combat the loneliness within elderly women in the 1980's, wishing to make people dependent on others again, which would have solved some of the aspects of loneliness. c) TO begin to answer this we must look at what is considered to be the archetypal Dutchman, tight fisted, or thrifty with his or her money, equality being a huge theme within the Dutch lifestyle, they do not like ti impose, or to be imposed upon, and the Dutch intend to live life as normally possible because that's crazy enough.
Van der Horst begins this chapter by explaining how the Dutch do not like to get close to strangers on a train (similar to the British inn that respect) and explains that moral people will avoid others space. On a personal note, with regards to strangers, this does not imply that people are lonely, only that they like their own space, understandable living in such a densely populated region. However, if people do get to know each other they are perfectly hospitable. However they do not help each other out in time of need because it's personal, and as far as money is concerned they will rarely assist each other. The fact that people are not as united as the used to be through religion implies the Dutch are independent, however there are factors in the text that imply that the Dutch are lonely and that they are trying to combat this. Through the modernisation of the Netherlands, people have become more dependent on immediate family (husband, wife, young children).
However this has affected the elderly, in the fact that they feel they must be dependent on themselves, and women especially, not wishing to place a burden on their children live lonely lives for they do not wish to appear sad or happy, because no one seems to want to know, not to say that the Dutch do not care. This idea of not wanting to acknowledge feelings is also represented in the way heterosexual couples display their emotions in the street. No one takes any notice, or appear like they have not. The homeless is another issue raised in the text that exemplify loneliness. They should not burden others with their problems and other's will choose to ignore them.
To conclude, the Dutch do have the aspect of loneliness in their character, but not intrinsically as the question suggests. Their 'rules of life' implement set standards, applying to all, resulting in certain independence, which may result in loneliness which is more apparent in some cases. The Low sky by Van der Horst.