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THE “WHITE BRITISH WORKING CLASSES” AND RESPONSES TO ETHNIC DIVERSITY Dr. Gareth Harris, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University.

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Presentation on theme: "THE “WHITE BRITISH WORKING CLASSES” AND RESPONSES TO ETHNIC DIVERSITY Dr. Gareth Harris, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE “WHITE BRITISH WORKING CLASSES” AND RESPONSES TO ETHNIC DIVERSITY Dr. Gareth Harris, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University

2 Responses to ethnic diversity 1. ESRC-funded project: Exit, Voice and Accommodation: Diversity and the white working class in England and Wales Mixed-methods approach: Quantitative analysis of large-scale govermental datasets (Citizenship Survey, BHPS and Understanding Society) + focus groups.

3 Exit, Voice, Accommodation Exit = ‘White Flight’ or Avoidance Voice = White opposition to immigration and/or far right voting Accommodation = White acceptance of diversity, immigration, ethnic change ESRC project: How related?

4 White + Working Class. Why? Ethnic identity more important source of identity for dominant ethnic group members of lower economic status (i.e. Ulster Protestant working class; Oriental Jews; poor ‘redneck’ whites or Afrikaners) – Yiftachel 1999; Roediger 1991 Research generally finds greater opposition to ethnic change and ethnic equality among working-class whites + support for far right in UK (Goodwin, 2011, 2012; Harris, 2012) Emergence of white working class in public debate on failure of multiculturalism

5 Opposition to immigration Public salience Uses pooled dataset of Citizenship Survey from (N= 62145) Each survey asks the question: 'Do you think the number of immigrants coming to Britain nowadays should be changed?' Answers follow a 5-category ordinal scale: 'increased a lot', 'increased a little', 'stay the same', 'decreased a little,' 'decreased a lot.' How we talk about immigration and who are we talking about?

6 Not just white British…

7 Not just working class….

8 Reduce the number of immigrants (a lot and a little) by social class and ward diversity for all white respondents in / / / Citizenship Survey

9 Geography matters At the individual level: the unemployed/social housing tenants or routine or semi-routine workers, no more or less likely to be opposed to immigration. Respondents who belonged to the lower supervisory/technical groups and identified as English were more likely to want to reduce immigration Respondents living in more deprived areas, no more or less likely to want to reduce immigration Ward-level diversity a positive effect whilst LA diversity negative But change in minority share at ward-level increases the odds of wanting to reduce immigration.

10 Cohesion: anxiety over integration? Tend to disagree and disagree that people from different backgrounds get on well together in neighbourhood

11 Support for Far Right & Populist Right

12 Whose voting for the far and populist right? Opposition to immigration and anxiety over the integration of minorities united in themes that far and populist right employ to mobilise support At the individual level support for the far right (BNP & NF) was male, stronger amongst lower supervisory, semi- routine and routine workers, and poorly educated. But not social housing tenants or unemployed For UKIP supporters no clear class profile but older and less likely to have degrees. Far and populist supporters share similar attitudinal profile high levels of dissatisfaction with political system and low levels of interpersonal trust.

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14 Evolution of anti-Muslim protest groups in two English towns English Defence League, street-based English nationalist movement Predominately working class support base, originally strongly connected to football casual scene Local case studies of two English towns: Case A: Large Asian heritage pop + highly segregated Case B: majority minority with large Asian heritage pop + ‘super-diverse’ Appeal to EDL within certain sub-sections of the working classes but subject to local context.

15 A working class response? Opposition to ‘militant Islam’ as coda for wider societal change Vacuum at heart of English nationalism Not just class but interaction between class and local demographic context Resistance to change compounded by feeling that we were never asked-Political disengagement How change is managed? Wider political and media discourse How so responses to change become manifest and which behaviours do we problematize?

16 Lack of General Trust


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