Influences on a sense of 'Britishness' among different ethnic and religious groups in England
Epidemiology and Public Health UCL London, UK
Sociology University of Manchester Manchester, UK
Debates regarding the attitudes of different ethnic/religious communities towards their lives in Europe never seem far from public or media agendas. Concern is voiced that some communities wish to live their lives separately from the rest of society, and that this will have negative consequences for social cohesion and ethnic relations and lead to the alienation and radicalisation of minority (particularly Muslim) groups. Despite a lack of empirical evidence to corroborate such concerns, they have coincided with an increase in displays of prejudice against certain faith populations and there are reports that this prejudice is considered more socially acceptable than other forms of victimisation.
This paper will present findings from a follow-up survey to the Health Survey for England 1999 which suggest that the majority of individuals from ethnic and religious minority communities in England think of themselves as being "British". But that this "Britishness" exists alongside other forms of national/ethnic identity, and a desire to maintain non-British traditions. The form that this "Britishness" takes is adapted in light of other aspects of an individual?s identity, as well as experiences of and attitudes towards life in Britain. Strength of an identity related to being a member of an ethnic minority group was found to be associated with particular ethnic and religious affiliations and certain migration characteristics. Exposure to victimisation appeared critical to whether or not respondents both felt able to access a sense of "Britishness" and recognised a need to preserve "traditional" ways of life considered under threat.