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British Bangladeshi young people and the British political system: perceptions of belongingness and access in comparison to English young people. Dimitra Pachi and Martyn Barrett University of Surrey, UK

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slide1

British Bangladeshi young people and the British political system: perceptions of belongingness and access in comparison to English young people

Dimitra Pachi and Martyn Barrett

University of Surrey, UK

Paper presented at the 7th Annual Conference of the Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism (CRONEM), “Global Migration and Multiculturalism: Religion, Society, Policy and Politics”, 28th-29th June, 2011, University of Surrey, UK.

introduction
Introduction
  • Decline of political participation?

The answer: Yes and No

to voluntary and less direct activities using new means of social/political information and communication

a shift from strictly institutional and traditional forms of political participation

(Curtice, 2005; Zukin, Keeter, Andolina, Jenkins & Delli Carpini, 2006)

Also happening amongst ethnic minority youth (Stepick & Stepick, 2002; Jensen, 2008)

Existing research has shown that girls get more engaged with ethnocultural associations than boys (Dion & Dion, 2001)

method
Method
  • The same procedure followed by all of the teams of the project:
    • Snowball sampling method allowing us to move through different youth organisations and people with the characteristics of our target population.
  • 9 focus groups with British Bangladeshi and English young people aged 16-18 years old and 20-26 years old living in London.
  • Most groups were gender mixed although for cultural and practical reasons some groups were gender specific

e.g. the youngest Bangladeshi groups were gender specific; Bangladeshi youth centres have separate activity days for boys and girls

analytic strategy
Analytic strategy
  • Due to the exploratory aims of the present study

Thematic analysis was conducted to identify themes (Joffe & Yardley, 2004; Braun & Clarke, 2006).

  • Both semantic and latent themes were identified in the data (Joffe & Yardley, 2004) and analysed after repeated readings.
  • In this process, first categories were generated based on the elements of the data relevant to the present study, and then these were combined into themes (Braun & Clarke, 2006).
summary of themes
Summary of Themes
  • Existence of opportunities
  • Institutionalised vs Unconventional forms of participation
  • Belongingness

Differences :

  • Voting age? Below or Above voting age
  • Gender?
slide7
British Bangladeshi participants
    • Institutionalised vs Unconventional forms of participation
      • Below voting age:
        • forms of expression: New technologies, writing letters to MPs and youth centres
        • Young female participants against the unconventional forms of participation because they involve breaking the law and therefore end up being ineffective ≠ young male participants
        • The only type of participation: Demonstration to save Harrow Mosque
      • Above voting age: They vote and have participated in demonstrations
        • For the older female participants Rejection related to their ineffectiveness, politicians do not listen and people don’t like violence. Acceptance related to: effectiveness, it brings attention, for local issues, it shows people’s passion for certain issues
        • Male participants acknowledge and use the official/traditional forms of participation.
        • Older male participants: reject and accept unconventional forms
          • Rejection because breaking the law
          • Acceptance for important issues such as religious issues
          • Acknowledgement because: proven effectiveness in history, there is a rationality behind them
slide8
Are there opportunities?
    • Below voting age:
      • No, there are no opportunities
    • Above voting age:
      • Yes, there are opportunities but not enough and not communicated to young people
      • There are opportunities but young people are not interested in politics; young people do not take themselves seriously
  • Belongingness
    • Citizenship related to
      • being born in a country - British nationality, British passport
      • paying taxes
      • Voting
      • Emotionally related to a country: wanting a country’s benefit
    • People choose to exclude themselves due to the perceived ineffectiveness of their actions
    • Religion, social class, low educational level makes people excluded from the system
    • Below voting age:
      • They do not think they are full rights citizens
    • Above voting age:
      • Young people are full-rights citizens – same rights and same opportunities
slide9
English participants
    • Institutionalised vs Unconventional forms of participation
      • Below voting age:
        • They acknowledge voting as the most important form of participation
        • They also recognise various forms of participation via: art (music), new technologies (Twitter, Facebook),
        • Young females also thought unconventional forms need strength and perseverance that they don’t have (due to their age and personality)
        • Low levels of participation; for boys it was not related to any political/civic issue
      • Above voting age:
        • Older participants acknowledge and use the official/traditional forms of participation such as voting, but also demonstrations and petitions
        • Older participants reject unconventional forms of participation due to their ineffectiveness. The only result: breaking the law
        • Females reported high levels of participation in a range of activities: recycling, charity organisations, demonstrations, signing petitions
slide10
Are there opportunities?
    • Below voting age: Mixed opinions
      • Yes, there are opportunities...through youth centres (personal experience), youth Parliament
    • Above voting age:
      • Yes, there are opportunities. Young people have as many opportunities as adults. Young people do not need a special treatment. Extreme ideas should not be encouraged by the government
  • Belongingness
    • Below voting age:
      • Everybody is included
      • People cannot make use of existing opportunities due to physical disabilities
    • Above voting age:
      • The system does not deliberately exclude anyone except for refugee seekers, prisoners
      • People cannot make use of the system because of their social/economic/educational status
      • Laws concerning the protection of women are unclear
      • Vs women and ethnic minority groups were considered favoured by the welfare system
british bangladeshi young people
British Bangladeshi young people
  • Are there opportunities for participation?
    • Below voting age:
      • No, there are no opportunities ≠ only opportunities for expression
    • Above voting age:
      • Yes, there are opportunities but not enough and not communicated to young people. Too much pressure and priority on more practical aspects of their lives.

“The opportunities are there, but they (referring to young people) probably don’t know about that” (British Bangladeshi female, 20-26 years old)

“There aren’t enough different opportunities, there’s like, you can write to you MP, or you can join youth parliament. But then only a certain number of people are interested in this sort…these sorts of things. Loads of other young people, like to express themselves differently and I don’t think there is enough, different varieties, there isn’t enough variety for expression. But not only that but like nowadays there is so much pressure on young people to grow up fast and get a job and start their life, they just are not interested in things anymore.” (British Bangladeshi female, 20-26 years old)

      • There are opportunities but young people are not interested in politics; young people do not take themselves seriously
slide12
Institutionalised vs Unconventional forms of participation
    • Below voting age:
      • forms of expression: New technologies, writing letters to MPs and youth centres
  • Young female participants against the unconventional forms of participation because they involve breaking the law and therefore end up being ineffective ≠ young male participants

“…if you are graffiting then they are not gonna want to listen to you because you are doing something against the law, you are doing something against them, you are not really asking them to do something, they will just try to not do it because….(you are showing it in the wrong way) (British Bangladeshi female, 16-18 years old)

  • Low levels of participation (especially amongst young boys): Demonstration to save Harrow Mosque, Recycling

Participation for religious issues, the environment

slide13
Above voting age: They vote and have participated in demonstrations
    • Female participants:
      • Rejection of forms of participation other than voting was related to a. their ineffectiveness; politicians do not listen to people and

b. people don’t like violence

“One of the extreme ones, probably demonstration …but demonstration isn’t always like something I would agree with, because most people don’t really like it cause it causes violence on the street” (British Bangladeshi female, 20-26 years old)

      • Acceptance related to: effectiveness
      • it brings attention
      • For local issues
      • It shows people’s passion for certain issues
slide14
Male participants acknowledge and use the official/traditional forms of participation

“Me it would be councillors, MPs, get up the whole hierarchical system and get yourself heard, wherever it’s, obviously even if you are doing over a period a time, get groups together, I mean that gets more noticed than it does doing something…” (British Bangladeshi male, 20-26 years old)

  • Concerning the unconventional forms, older male participants:

Rejection because breaking the law

Acceptance for important issues, such as religious issues

Acknowledgement because of their proven effectiveness in history and the rationality behind them in certain cases

“definitely not, but the suffragettes they starved themselves in order to get the vote for women…” (British Bangladeshi male, 20-26 years old)

“there is some countries where you can’t do nothing…you known them countries where they blow themselves up…I wouldn’t do that but I am saying they do have reasons to do it, they are not doing it for no reason…” (British Bangladeshi male, 20-26 years old)

slide15
Belongingness
    • Citizenship related to
      • being born in a country - British nationality, British passport
      • voting
      • paying taxes
      • Emotionally related to a country: wanting a country’s benefit
    • People choose to exclude themselves due to the perceived ineffectiveness of their actions
    • Religion, social class, low educational level makes people excluded from the system

“Part B7.5

Paying taxes

PartB1.5

If you have the legal right to be in the country you can’t change it PartB5.5

Someone who has got British passport, to show you’ve got British nationality…” (British Bangladeshi female, 20-26 years old)

    • Below voting age:
      • They do not think they are full rights citizens (related to right to vote, alcohol use etc.)
    • Above voting age:
      • Young people are full-rights citizens – same rights and same opportunities
english participants
English participants
  • Are there opportunities?
    • Below voting age: Mixed opinions
      • Yes, there are opportunities...through youth centres (personal experience), youth Parliament

“Like this youth centre, before I come here, I used to hang around in the streets and the estates and stuff, and since I have been coming here, I have been on an estate only a few times, I come here…” (English male, 16-18 years old)

    • Above voting age:
      • Yes, there are opportunities. Young people have as many opportunities as adults. Young people do not need a special treatment. Extreme ideas should not be encouraged by the government

“They have the youth parliament now, don’t they” (English male, 20-26 years old)

“I mean I don’t think the government stifles youth, so you can’t, you know, present your views how you want to present them, but I think if you want to demonstrate, or get your view out, you are gonna get out heard, whether, you don’t need to be given, it would be a bit…what’s the word like? Ehm….ehm…like it would seem a bit weird if the government was like here here is the forum for you to demonstrate your views on immigration or something…” (English female, 20-26 years old)

“I think it’s much as the next person, like an adult” (English female, 20-26 years old)

slide17
Institutionalised vs Unconventional forms of participation
    • Below voting age:
      • They acknowledge voting as the most important form of participation
      • They also recognise various forms of participation via: art (music), new technologies (Twitter, Facebook)

“Before you are 21 you can hardly do anything, cause like we might have a lot of opinions on political parties, but we can’t vote, can we?” (English male, 16-18 years old)

“I would say art and music” (English female, 16-18 years old)

      • Young females also thought unconventional forms need strength and perseverance that they don’t have (due to their age and personality)

“PartEG3.3

I would sponsor someone else but I wouldn’t do it… (laugh from everyone)

Interviewer1

You would sponsor somebody doing it…

PartEG3.3

Yeah, but I am not doing it, I couldn’t do that, I wouldn’t last long ….

PartEG2.3

It needs a lot of patience and I don’t have any…(English, females, 16-18 years old)

      • Low levels of participation (with the exception of going to youth centres); for boys it was not related to any political/civic issue
slide18
Above voting age:
    • Older participants acknowledge and use the official/traditional forms of participation such as voting, but also demonstrations and petitions

“…the only thing I really do is like sign petitions and like been a couple of demonstrations in the past but I have never…voting I suppose but I think that’s the extent of …” (English females, 20-26 years old)

    • They reject unconventional forms of participation due to their ineffectiveness. The only result: breaking the law

“PartE2.2

I think it’s quite ineffective in the end, you get your picture taken, you go on the paper and then that’s it

PartE5.2

Also I think at times it can have a negative effect if they do like …

PartE2.2

They are breaking the law (English females, 20-26 years old)

    • Females reported high levels of participation in a range of activities: recycling, charity organisations, demonstrations, signing petitions
slide19
Belongingness
  • Citizenship
    • Through voting and Representation in the Parliament

“PartE1.2

I am sure not of all asylum seekers, I am sure there is probably a vast majority who don’t get a proper hearing, they are just sent back, obviously it’s too expensive to get each of them an individual oral hearing, so …..they are probably sent back without just having an application and that being rejected….I am sure they don’t have as many rights as we do….

PartE2.2

And I mean obviously they don’t have any representation in the Parliament, I doubt they have any asylum seeker…..so…” (English females, 20-26 years old)

      • Below voting age:
        • Everybody is included

“Interviewer1

Or do you think everybody has the same opportunities?

PartEG2.3

I don’t actually know…

PartEG3.3

Yeah I don’t know…if anyone is excluded or not, I don’t think of it as someone is more excluded than other people” (English females, 16-18 years old)

        • People cannot make use of existing opportunities due to physical disabilities
slide20
Above voting age:
        • The system does not deliberately exclude anyone except for refugee seekers, prisoners
        • People cannot make use of the system because of their social/economic/educational status
  • “Well, I think, I mean….. the young, …the poorer people like might not have internet in the house, they may not have books in the house, and they may not have a telly or like they just have other things to think about, like their weekly tiny budget and….the houses….like I don’t know….I think… they may not be as aware, or it’s not that they are not aware, but they just haven’t, they are not…out there, like …yeah. I don’t know” (English females, 20-26 years old)
        • Laws concerning the protection of women are unclear
        • Vs women and ethnic minority groups were considered favoured by the welfare system

“PartE1.2

Yeah, I don’t think that women thing (that women are excluded), even like we are a bit more favoured I would say

(more participants agree)

PartE6.5

And similarly with the domestic violence on a man; it’s kind of laughed about. If a man hits a woman it’s terrible, and if a woman hits a man, you know it’s…” (English female, 20-26 years old)

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Perception of opportunities
    • More negative perceptions in younger ages of both groups; personal experience is important. Young people refer to the opportunities they have experienced
    • 20-26 years old young people acknowledge the existence of opportunities, British Bangladeshi young people see a lack in communication
  • Institutionalised vs Unconventional forms of participation
    • New technologies and art (music)
    • The most important form of participation is considered to be voting , which leaves the younger generation’s participationless effective
    • Both English and British Bangladeshi youth (above 18 years old) use the official/traditional forms of participation
    • Unconventional forms of participation rejected by the majority (ineffective, breaking the law), except for British Bangladeshi male youth
slide22
Belongingness: who is a citizen? Who is excluded?
    • Legal terms:
      • British nationality- British passport
      • Paying taxes
      • Voting (English and British Bangladeshi participants)
    • Emotional terms:
      • People who care for the country
    • People who exclude themselves

    • People are not legally excluded but cannot make use of the existing opportunities due to their socio-economic situation (English participants)
    • Women and ethnic minority youth are favoured in the welfare system

(English participants)

acknowledgements
Acknowledgements

The research reported in this paper was supported by a grant received from the European Commission 7th Framework Programme, FP7- SSH-2007-1, Grant Agreement no: 225282, Processes Influencing Democratic Ownership and Participation (PIDOP) awarded to the University of Surrey (UK), University of Liège (Belgium), Masaryk University (Czech Republic), University of Jena (Germany), University of Bologna (Italy), University of Porto (Portugal), Örebro University (Sweden), Ankara University (Turkey) and Queen’s University Belfast (UK)