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Immigrant Generation, Religiosity and Civic Engagement in Britain BSA Annual Conference, University of Leeds 11 April 2012 Siobhan McAndrew and David Voas.

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Presentation on theme: "Immigrant Generation, Religiosity and Civic Engagement in Britain BSA Annual Conference, University of Leeds 11 April 2012 Siobhan McAndrew and David Voas."— Presentation transcript:

1 Immigrant Generation, Religiosity and Civic Engagement in Britain BSA Annual Conference, University of Leeds 11 April 2012 Siobhan McAndrew and David Voas Universities of Manchester and Essex

2 Research Question Immigrant integration appears to be generational in US, and facilitated by religious involvement – generational processes are the means by which immigrants integrate: dissolving of ‘bright lines’ (Richard Alba 2005; Rumbaut 2004) Does this hold in Britain, which is both more secular and has a different (more postcolonial) pattern of immigration?

3 How religion integrates immigrants The social function of religion for immigrants is ‘the search for refuge, respect and resources’ (Hirschman 2004) ‘immigrants and their children became Americans… by settling in neighborhoods, joining associations, and acquiring identities of ethnic Americans defined more by religion than by country of origin’ Social control/conservatism effect.

4 How religion differentiates migrants 2010 British Social Attitudes survey: ‘do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?’ 50 per cent replied ‘no’ 2009 BSA: 8.4 per cent of white respondents reported at least weekly attendance, vs. 31.1 per cent of ethnic minority or mixed heritage respondents.

5 Ethnic minority members are more religious

6 Second generation immigrants: more religious than arrival generation? Reaction to discrimination and disadvantage Greater opportunities for religious learning and expression Part of religious minority rather than majority Religiosity as resource: signal of trustworthiness – across national boundaries – marriage market – female participation in education and employment ‘Reactive religiosity’: – hostility raises consciousness – manifestation of ‘reactive ethnicity’ and oppositional culture.

7 Contradictory theories of religion’s effect on civic engagement US tradition: churches as ‘incubator for civic skills, civic norms, community interests’ (Putnam, 2000) Media accounts in UK: ‘[immigrants] live in impoverished ethnic ghettos, participate in non-mainstream religions, and politically organise via ethnically and religiously motivated networks’ (cited by Maxwell, 2006).

8 Historical precedent Todd Engelman study of Anglo-Jewry Britain from 1900 relatively tolerant of religious difference, although not interested in ‘Jews as Jews’ Relative tolerance and ethnic homogeneity encouraged social integration, but political invisibility. Secularization and intermarriage caused ‘massive losses’ But ‘the elaborate network of religious and charitable institutions that British Jews erected and supported voluntarily was one of [their] great successes… British Jews also distinguished themselves, in comparison to other Western Jews, by their loyalty to Jewish worship’.

9 Data 2010 Ethnic Minority British Election Study ‘The most comprehensive study of ethnic minorities in Britain since PSI’s Fourth National Survey in 1994’ Investigators Anthony Heath, David Sander, Steve Fisher, Maria Sobolewska, Gemma Rosenblatt. Funded by ESRC; administered by TNS-BMRB Run alongside the British Election Study 2009-2010: – long-standing, important research tool running since 1964 Not a booster but distinct survey with separate sample and fieldwork. Many items shared with main BES survey.

10 Target Groups Five largest visible Ethnic Minorities in Britain Screening exercise to identify EM respondents in target households. Response rate difficult to assess, but about 60% Fieldwork: May-August 2010. Black Caribbean668 Black African579 Indian593 Pakistani673 Bangladeshi274 Total2787

11 Methods Categorised respondents as first, 1.5 or second (and subsequent) generations Investigated how self-reported religiosity varies by generational status and broad ethnic category: – exploratory analysis – multivariate regression analysis. Interpreted overall effect of generation and ethnic group separately via pairwise contrasts of predictive margins using the model results; then assessed the specific effect of generational status within ethnic group (conditional marginal effects). Probit regression analysis to assess effect of religiosity and generational status on three measures of civic health: social trust, civic engagement and volunteering.

12 Measures of religiosity Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion? How important is your religion to you? In the past 12 months, how often did you participate in religious activities or attend religious services or meetings with other people, other than for events such as weddings and funerals? In the past 12 months, how often did you do religious activities on your own? This may include prayer, meditation and other forms of worship taking place at home or in any other location.

13 High rates of religious retention

14 Religious salience varies by ethnic group and generation

15 Multivariate regression model Ideally would use measurement modelling and three indicators of religiosity: – Religious salience – Communal practice – Private practice … to predict ‘latent religiosity’ But the latent measure is not invariant across ethnic groups – perhaps because of role of communal practice in Christianity/Sikhism compared with Islam/Hinduism So instead model the three measures as manifest variables simultaneously This takes into account the full covariance structure, and allows efficient estimates of model coefficients and standard errors.



18 No significant decline in salience for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis? There is a decline in private practice No significant generational decline in communal practice – but no increase either Some issues to consider: – multivariate regression model has 21 parameters – loss of degrees of freedom and statistical power – the unaffiliated are screened out of the religious questions – If we re-run the model for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis only (pooling the two ethnic groups), we do find significant decline in salience for the second generation compared with the first – The effect is strengthened if we impute religiosity scores for the unaffiliated (presumably of Muslim heritage).

19 Probit regression analyses Dependent variables are generalised social trust, volunteering for a local political cause, and ‘other’ volunteering Conventional measures of civic health This time, we do not interact generation with ethnic group, but generation with religiosity To see how religiosity affects younger generations in particular.

20 Predicted Probabilities


22 Effect of religiosity and generation on social trust

23 Effect of religiosity and generation on ‘other volunteering’

24 Conclusions (1) Evidence of secularization in terms of salience and private practice: – differs across ethnic groups; – differs by type of religiosity. Communal practice has not changed substantially from one generation to the next, except for Black Carribeans.

25 Conclusions (II) Generational effects are away from trust but towards greater civic involvement and volunteering Religiosity is associated with greater civic engagement and volunteering, while effects on generalized trust are insignificant - and for the 1.5 generation, negative Little evidence that religiosity for the 1.5 and second generations in particular has unwelcome effects on social and civic life Promising story for immigrant integration in Britain, and the role of religiosity in integration.

26 For further details, you can reach me at To access the EMBES, visit Thank you!

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