A Clash between Citizenship Projects at Utrecht’s Houtplein in the 1970s

Jasper Bongers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article explores the clashing of two citizenship projects at Utrecht’s Houtplein, a re-education facility for so-called asocial families. On the one hand, there was a citizenship project led by the Public Housing Association, which existed between 1924 and 1975. This organization’s view was that inhabitants of the Houtplein could be developed into full members of the community if they learned to adhere to the norms of neatness and orderliness. On the other hand, there was the Action Committee Pijlsweerd, a left-leaning organization consisting of students and other inhabitants of the Pijlsweerd neighborhood, which challenged the Public Housing Association’s project in the 1970s. Although their goals were very different, the Action Committee pursued a citizenship project as well. Their aim was to encourage the inhabitants of the Houtplein to claim citizenship in a direct manner, by standing up against the Housing Association’s alleged paternalism. Analyzing the interactions, as well as the ultimate clash, between these two projects provides insight into how citizenship was contested, both at the Houtplein and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-106
Number of pages26
JournalTijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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