Dr. P.G.S.M. Smets

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+31 20 59 86742
faculteit der sociale wetensch ( afdeling sociologie )
University lecturer

Present: office hours tuesdays 15.00 - 17.00


  • liveability and social cohesion in low-income neighbourhoods in Amsterdam
  • social capital
  • policies concerning recovery from indebtedness
  • financial self-help groups
  • self-construction and financing startegies in slums, India
  • micro housing finance
  • development bureaucracy and corruption


The present research mainly focuses on how habitat conditions (housing and its living environment) of the newcomers and established in low-income neighbourhoods and related perceptions determine its liveability.  Moreover, norms and values differ among newcomers, which may be caught in between the  ‘western’ concept of individualisation and their own cultural background encompassing more group thinking. Despite differences, these neighbourhoods are expected to be increasingly self-governed by settlers alone or in alliance with public and private sector organisations and civil society.

What is the potential for self-management of individuals, households and groups concerning the liveability of low-income neighbourhoods? Do these settlers have the necessary resources for self-help and self-management strategies? How are the boundaries related to phases in the life course of the persons concerned? Are these boundaries shaped by different cultural backgrounds? If so, how? What can be learned from the successes and failures of settlers taking action in improving the liveability of their neighbourhood?

I am a member of the research school CERES,  Working Programme 3, Enterprise, Governance and Local-Global Interactions.


Publications (Source: METIS VU)

  • Forthcoming/ verwacht
  • Smets, P. (2011) Slum Dwellers, Savings, Gifts and their External Credit Relations for Shelter. In: V. Das and R. K. Das (eds) Sociology and Anthropology of Economic Life II: Strategies, Networks, and Markets. Oxford, etc.: Oxford University Press.
  • Bredenoord, J., P. van Lindert & P. Smets (2010) gastredactie  special issue  Equal access to housing, Habitat International
    Bredenoord, J., P. van Lindert & P. Smets (2010) Editorial. Equal access to shelter: Coping with the urban crisis by supporting self-help housing, Habitat  International, 34(3): 274-277.
    Ferguson, B. & P. Smets (2010) Finance for incremental housing: current status and prospects for expansion, Habitat International, 34(3): 288-298.
  • Müller, T. and P. Smets (2009) Welcome to the neighbourhood: social contacts between Iraqis and natives in Arnhem, The Netherlands, Local Environment, 14(5): 403-415 
    Social mixing is viewed as an instrument for social justice because it is used to integrate different categories of inhabitants and improves social conditions in poor urban neighbourhoods. Social mixing as an instrument for integration assumes that some connections between natives and immigrants will be established. This article explores the dynamics of interethnic contact between Iraqis and native residents in a Dutch neighbourhood. It shows how cultural differences between the Iraqis and the Dutch influence the establishment of interethnic contacts. This study presents a more complex view of interethnic contact than is usually portrayed in the current debate on integration. It demonstrates that social mixing requires measures that enable and facilitate interethnic contact. 

Together or Separate in the Neighbourhood? Contacts between Natives and Turks in Amsterdam. Peer Smets and Nicoline Kreuk (2008).
The integration of non-Western migrants and especially Muslims is an issue of hot public debate in the Netherlands. This debate has been largely dominated by stereotypical images of Muslims and natives, which only serve to reinforce ‘we-they’ configurations. However, one gets a rather different view if one looks at the daily encounters between natives and Turks in an ethnically mixed neighbourhood in Amsterdam. The interactions between natives and Turks have thus been examined to gain insight into the dynamics of the interethnic contacts. This study reveals that contact between native born and Turks, and mutual judgements are manifold. In particular, the examination of the everyday interaction between Turks and natives can enrich the debate on Turks (Muslims) and integration.
Het artikel is te downladen via:  http://www.bentham.org/open/tousj/openaccess2.htm

  • 2008  Special issue Countering Urban segregation, Urban Studies, 45 (7) (gastredactie  met T. Salman).
  • 2008  Countering Urban Segregation: Theoretical and policy innovations from around the globe, Urban Studies, 45(7):   1307-1332 (met T. Salman)
  • 2008  The complex role of ethnicity in urban mixing. A study of two deprived neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, Urban Studies, 45(7): 1439-1460 (met M. den Uyl)
  • 2008  Let's meet! Let's exchange! LETS as an instrument for linking asylum seekers and natives in the Netherlands, Journal of Refugee Studies 21(3): 326-346 (met S. ten Kate).
  • 2008  Together or separate in the neighbourhood?: Contacts between natives and Turks in Amsterdam, The Open Urban Studies Journal, 1: 35-47 (met N. Kreuk).
  • 2007  Samen ruilen en elkaar ontmoeten. Asielzoekers en autochtonen in een ruilnetwerk in Woudrichem, Migrantenstudies, 23(3): 207-224. (met S. ten Kate). 

    Lijst publicaties:   Publicaties dr. P.G.S.M. Smets (feb 2009) 


Ancillary activities

No ancillary activities
Last changes Ancillary activities: Amsterdam 27 januari 2017