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Coming to terms with diversity: British attitudes to ethnic minorities and immigrants Robert Ford CCSR, University of Manchester

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Presentation on theme: "Coming to terms with diversity: British attitudes to ethnic minorities and immigrants Robert Ford CCSR, University of Manchester"— Presentation transcript:

1 Coming to terms with diversity: British attitudes to ethnic minorities and immigrants Robert Ford 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 The British discriminate in favour of white and culturally British immigrants This discrimination is principally (though not only) due to racial prejudice and authoritarianism Younger generations discriminate much less

3 Mass immigration and ethnic diversity are recent developments Pre WWII Britain was ethnically homogenous but ruled over a diverse empire. Net emigration from Britain to Empire 1870-1950 Privileged status of Commonwealth migrants 1948-83 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 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

5 Existing research Most research has focussed on EM disadvantage and effects of discrimination British attitudes to immigration (in general); support for the far-right Virtually no work on General prevalence of prejudice Attitudes to specific immigrant groups

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 Ethnic minorities: hypotheses Prejudice against ethnic minorities is falling Biological racism no longer legitimate Elites more tolerant More contact with EMs: indirect (media) and direct (school, work, neighbourhood) This fall will be primarily generational… …because racism is more like a value (Inglehart, 1997) than an attitude (Zaller, 1992) This fall will be more rapid among the educated, the middle class and women Internalised new tolerant norms more quickly Less economically threatened by EMs

8 More prejudice against Asian minorities? Early researchers argued racial difference most important source of prejudice: Aint No Black in the Union Jack More recently some have argued that race is no longer the most salient source of prejudice. Cultural differences now matter more (Modood, 2005) Asian minorities, esp Muslims, suffer more from this cultural prejudice

9 Methods Ordered logistic regression analysis of the 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

10 Racial prejudice is declining

11 There is a strong generational shift towards acceptance of EMs

12 This generational shift is the main driver of attitude change

13 Generational shifts are not the same for everyone

14 To summarise… White British are becoming less hostile to EMs 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

15 Immigrants: hypotheses The perceived threat immigrants pose to cultural unity is the most important factor driving European opposition to immigrants (Ivarflaten, 2006; Sides and Citrin, 2007) Groups that are more 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

16 Hypotheses 2 Racial prejudice will be a major explanation for these immigration preferences Authoritarianism will be a second major explanation: Authoritarians value cultural unity and are more likely to perceive difference as threatening (Altemeyer, 2007) Racial prejudice and authoritarianism are in generational decline (Tilley, 2005) Therefore younger cohorts will be less opposed to immigration in general and will discriminate less against less favoured immigrant groups

17 Methods Binary logistic regression analysis of opposition to immigration from four regions Australasia, Europe, West Indies, India Effects of period, cohort, prejudice and authoritarianism estimated Controls for education, class, unemployment, council tenure, newspaper readership, and partisan identification

18 There is a consistent ethnic hierarchy in 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 Discriminatory opposition 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 ethnic hierarchy holds for the unprejudiced 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 Authoritarianism has a similar effect

24 Summary of findings White Britons discriminate in favour of immigrants like themselves. Racial similarity matters more than culture Prejudice and authoritarian values are the most important drivers of general opposition to immigration and of discrimination against non- white, non-British groups Generational decline in these attitudes means discrimination is weaker among younger generations, though it is still very significant

25 Overall summary Britain is becoming more tolerant of ethnic minorities and more open to immigration... …but this is happening slowly… …because prejudice and discrimination, once fixed, are hard to remove… …so change is primarily generational… …large changes between cohorts… …but cohorts stick around a long time

26 Discussion points: race What has happened since 1996? No comparable data… Are the measures of racial prejudice accurate? Social desirability bias (Kuklinski et al, 1997) Need inobtrusive measures of prejudice: implicit attitude tests; survey experiments; vignettes (Sniderman and Hagendoorn, 2007) Why is prejudice falling more slowly for men than women? Some mechanisms offered for this finding (values, gender roles) but no systematic investigation of it as yet

27 Discussion points: immigration Where the public thinks immigrants are coming from will matter enormously for their opinions on immigration So where do the public think immigrants are coming from? What determines this? Does the generational decline in racial prejudice mean race and immigration are less potent political issues? Much higher rates of all forms of immigration in 2000- 2008 than in 1970s; more muted public response


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