Britishness research presented at Labour Party Conference

New evidence from ISER on how British we are is being presented at the Labour Party Conference today.

The event, Identity and the future of our communities , which is being hosted by NatCen, hopes to tap into growing debates and the latest social research around the changing nature of community life and people’s sense of place, identity and Britishness. Invited speakers include John Denham MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ed Miliband, and Lord Maurice Glasman.

As part of the event, a briefing paper, ’Britishness’ and diversity:
An integrated and confident nation?
has been produced for policy makers, which combines existing evidence and comment with new analysis from ISER researchers using the Understanding Society survey.

The paper focuses on three main areas:

  1. National identity
  2. Civic and political engagement
  3. Residential mobility and local cohesion

National identity findings

  • About two-fifths of those of White ethnicity in England report having an ‘English only’ national identity, and a quarter see themselves as having a combined ‘English-British’ identity.
  • Minority groups are most likely to identify with being ‘British only’.
  • Almost one in ten of those in England feel ‘neither English nor British’. Black-Caribbean and Mixed groups are the least likely ethnic minority groups to fall into this category, with Black-African and other groups the most likely.
  • Those of White ethnicity, on average, find being British less important than those who self-classify as Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Black African ethnicities.
  • Those who report an ‘English only’ national identity are subsequently just as likely as those with a ‘British only’ national identity to report that being British is important to them.

Civic engagement findings

  • Almost two fifths (18%) of all people had actively volunteered in the previous year. * People of White ethnicity were more likely to have volunteered in the last 12 months than those of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African and other ethnicities (but not than those of Black Caribbean ethnicities).
  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups were most likely to vote and also are most likely to agree that voting is a social norm (i.e. most people usually vote).
  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups have a lower interest in politics with Black groups having highest levels of interest.
  • Most ethnic minority groups display a more positive view about democracy in Britain and voting as a social norm than those of White ethnicity.

Residential mobility and local cohesion

Ongoing research, using Understanding Society and other data, is looking in more detail at whether there has been a disproportionate shift of white British people out of diverse areas.

Emerging findings suggest that when White British people move, they are more likely to opt for white areas than minorities – but this may be because they move towards friends and family or prefer different cultural amenities, all of which draw whites and minorities to different areas.

The event is being repeated at the Conservative Party Conference next week.

Photo credit: Caspargirl


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