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British attitudes to ethnic minorities and immigrants: generational change and the slow decline of discrimination Robert Ford Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

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Presentation on theme: "British attitudes to ethnic minorities and immigrants: generational change and the slow decline of discrimination Robert Ford Postdoctoral Research Fellow."— Presentation transcript:

1 British attitudes to ethnic minorities and immigrants: generational change and the slow decline of discrimination Robert Ford Postdoctoral Research Fellow CCSR, University of Manchester Rob.ford@manchester.ac.uk

2 Key Findings Prejudice against ethnic minorities is declining in Britain This decline is primarily a generational process: slow overall change masks dramatic shifts between generations While overall opposition to immigration remains high, discrimination between immigrant groups is declining Once again, this is a generational process, with younger Britons much less likely to discriminate against non-white migrants

3 Mass immigration and ethnic diversity are recent developments Net emigration from Britain to Empire 1870- 1950 Mass migration from Commonwealth began in early 1950s, avg 50,000 p.a. since: British EM population 1951: 80,000 British EM population 2001: 4,635,000 Further boost to migration from international commitments (EU, asylum conventions)

4 British ethnic minority population 1951-2006

5 Why do attitudes towards ethnic minorities and immigrants matter? Disadvantages EMs suffer due to discrimination Worse outcomes in employment, education, health, housing Hostility to minorities could undermine community cohesion and social capital (Putnam, 2007) Immigration has been a potent political issue: Mainstream: Powell, Thatcher, Howard? Far right: Nat Front, BNP Large scale immigration is likely to continue Population ageing; International commitments

6 Two studies: ethnic minorities and immigrants Both use British Social Attitudes data 1983- 1996 1.Ethnic minorities social distance indicators Attitudes to black and Asian minority groups 2. Immigrants Reduce immigration question Attitudes to immigrants from four regions

7 Four arguments for a decline in racial prejudice in Britain Declining legitimacy of claims for white political, economic or cultural superiority Elite adoption of multicultural consensus celebrating diversity and sanctioning prejudice Ethnic minorities now an unquestioned part of the British imagined community Rising levels of white social contact with black and Asian Britons, as minority populations grow and disperse socially and geographically

8 The social distribution of prejudice: education, class and gender Those with higher levels of education found to express less prejudice in multiple studies (Sullivan and Transue, 1999; Hello et al, 2006). Rising education levels since 1950s may contribute to fall in prejudice Economic competition with minorities (for jobs, housing, benefits) may increase hostility. Such competition likely to be concentrated in working classes and those dependent on state benefits. Many studies have found prejudice more strongly expressed by men, who also predominate in extreme right parties Exposure to, and response to, factors reducing prejudice may be socially differentiated, resulting in attitudinal divergence

9 Is prejudice about culture as well as race? British academics in 1970s/80s argued that cultural differences of minor relevance as a source of prejudice; blacks and Asians united by common experience of white rejection (Gilroy, 1987; Solomos, 1989) More recent analysis argues that while visible racial difference is important for identifying group members, the source of hostility lies in cultural differences: South Asians…are clearly visible as a non-white group: they are a principal object of racist victimization, of negative treatment by whites on the grounds that they are an undesirable Other. They suffer, therefore, from color racism. But they also suffer from cultural racism: a certain culture is attributed to them, is vilified, and is even the ground for discrimination…. This means that Asians, more than blacks, suffer a double racism. (Modood, 2005, p.7, emphasis added)

10 Methods Ordered logistic regression analysis of pooled (7 survey) dataset Effects estimated for attitudes to black and Asian groups separately Controls for class, education, gender, unemployment, council tenure, lifecycle events Interactions to test for variation in generational shifts for different social groups. Significant interactions found for gender, class and education

11 Data and methods Pooled dataset of seven British Social Attitudes surveys conducted between 1983-1996. N = 11,970 Social distance measures of prejudice employed: Would you mind working for a black/Asian boss? Would you mind if a close relative married a black/Asian person? Ordered responses – Dont mind, Mind a little and Mind a lot, therefore ordered logistic regression carried out Randomly split samples – half in each survey asked about black racial group, half about Asian. Separate models estimated for each group Period and cohort divergence in attitudes tested using interaction variables

12 Racial prejudice is declining

13 There is a strong generational shift towards acceptance of EMs

14 This generational shift is the main driver behind the decline in prejudice

15 Generational shifts are not the same for everyone

16 To summarise… Britain is coming to terms with diversity This is a generational shift, and is likely to continue… Hostility to white-Muslim intermarriage in 2003: 27% However, significant prejudices remain, and are likely to decline only slowly Reactions to both minorities very similar; little evidence of cultural racism. Attitudes are more polarised among the young: Prejudice virtually unknown among highly qualified and women; remains common among the unqualified and men

17 Immigrants: hypotheses The perceived threat immigrants pose to national cultural unity is a key factor driving European opposition to immigrants (Ivarflaten, 2006; Sides and Citrin, 2007) Groups that are more visible and more culturally different will be perceived as more threatening and will be more opposed There will therefore be an ethnic hierarchy in immigration preferences, with two dimensions: Race: White immigrants preferred Culture: Immigrant groups with more British culture (language, religion) preferred Younger generations will be less concerned about cultural/racial difference; they will discriminate less

18 There is a consistent discriminatory pattern of immigration preferences

19 Younger generations oppose immigration less, and discriminate less

20 Race and culture both matter, but race matters more % oppose immigration 198319841986198919941996Total White average 36434137 3638 Nonwhite average 70736866605464 Difference 34302729231826 British average 48535148444147 Non British average 58625856524955 Difference 10978888

21 Discrimination between migrants is very pronounced among the prejudiced… % oppose immigration 198319841986198919941996Total Australasian Immigration 26373833383734 EU immigration 46565545545552 West Indian immigration 7782807875 78 Indian immigration 818683 827883 Diff EU-Aus 201917121618 Diff WI-Aus 51454245373844 Diff Ind-Aus 55494550444149

22 …but the unprejudiced discriminate too % oppose immigration 198319841986198919941996Total Australasian Immigration 2934 33282730 EU immigration 43444240353439 West Indian immigration 58595551474250 Indian immigration 61635855524655 Diff EU-Aus 141087779 Diff WI-Aus 29252118191520 Diff Ind-Aus 32292422241925

23 Summary White British people are becoming more tolerant of ethnic minorities and more open to immigration But this is happening slowly… …because prejudiced and discriminatory attitudes, once formed, are hard to remove… Change is primarily generational Even though change between cohorts is rapid… …cohorts stick around a long time, so the overall rate change is slow


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