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Ethnic minorities in UK feel more British than white Britons

By Web Desk
June 2nd 2012



New research examining how British people feel about their nationality has revealed that people from ethnic minority backgrounds identify more closely with Britishness than their white counterparts.

The findings show that fears expressed by some groups about the negative impacts of immigration on cultural identity may be considerably overstated. In particular, Muslims from a Pakistani background, often said to associate more strongly with their own national identity as opposed to where they are living now, in the survey say quite the reverse.

The researchers also point to the significant numbers of White British people who feel little or no association with “being British”.

The research is being presented next week at the ESRC Research Methods Festival in Oxford by Dr Alita Nandi, who makes use of new information collected as part of a major household survey called Understanding Society.

The research showed that:

  • All minorities (other than mixed) identify more strongly as British than the White majority
  • Muslim Pakistanis are not any more likely to have a strong minority identification than any other group – in fact the opposite
  • Indians, Black Africans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Middle Eastern Muslims associate most closely with Britishness
  • White, Chinese and Afro-Caribbeans associate least closely with Britishness
  • Identification with Britishness is higher among the children and grandchildren of migrants

Dr Nandi, who is based at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, said:

“There is a huge emphasis in public and policy discourse on immigration and its potential challenge to cultural homogeneity and national identity. Our research shows that people we might assume would feel very British, in fact do not – while others who we might assume would not associate themselves with feelings of Britishness, in fact do.”

She added:

“Many people seem to manage dual identities, and it’s interesting to note that in all the ethnic groups we looked at British identity increases from generation to generation, while within the majority white population many maintain strong non-British identities, such as Scots or Welsh.”

Next week’s presentation is based on research by Dr Nandi from ISER and Professor Lucinda Platt from the Institute of Education, University of London.

Originally published by IISER


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