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The “white British working classes” and responses to Ethnic Diversity Dr. Gareth Harris, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University
Responses to ethnic diversity • ESRC-funded project: Exit, Voice and Accommodation: Diversity and the white working class in England and Wales Mixed-methods approach: Quantitative analysis of large-scale govermental datasets (Citizenship Survey, BHPS and Understanding Society) + focus groups. • Evolution of anti-Muslim protest in Two English Towns funded by DCLG Case study of two areas, quantitative analysis of survey data + 6 focus groups and 22 interviews in each area. 2 focus groups with EDL supporters.
Exit, Voice, Accommodation • Exit = ‘White Flight’ or Avoidance • Voice = White opposition to immigration and/or far right voting • Accommodation = White acceptance of diversity, immigration, ethnic change • ESRC project: How related?
White + Working Class. Why? • Ethnic identity more important source of identity for dominant ethnic group members of lower economic status (i.e. Ulster Protestant working class; Oriental Jews; poor ‘redneck’ whites or Afrikaners) – Yiftachel 1999; Roediger 1991 • Research generally finds greater opposition to ethnic change and ethnic equality among working-class whites + support for far right in UK (Goodwin, 2011, 2012; Harris, 2012) • Emergence of white working class in public debate on failure of multiculturalism
Opposition to immigration • Public salience • Uses pooled dataset of Citizenship Survey from 2009-2011 (N= 62145) • Each survey asks the question: 'Do you think the number of immigrants coming to Britain nowadays should be changed?' Answers follow a 5-category ordinal scale: 'increased a lot', 'increased a little', 'stay the same', 'decreased a little,' 'decreased a lot.' • How we talk about immigration and who are we talking about?
Reduce the number of immigrants (a lot and a little) by social class and ward diversity for all white respondents in 2007-08/2008-09/2009-10/2010-11 Citizenship Survey
Geography matters • At the individual level: the unemployed/social housing tenants or routine or semi-routine workers, no more or less likely to be opposed to immigration. • Respondents who belonged to the lower supervisory/technical groups and identified as English were more likely to want to reduce immigration • Respondents living in more deprived areas, no more or less likely to want to reduce immigration • Ward-level diversity a positive effect whilst LA diversity negative • But change in minority share at ward-level increases the odds of wanting to reduce immigration.
Cohesion: anxiety over integration? Tend to disagree and disagree that people from different backgrounds get on well together in neighbourhood
Whose voting for the far and populist right? • Opposition to immigration and anxiety over the integration of minorities united in themes that far and populist right employ to mobilise support • At the individual level support for the far right (BNP & NF) was male, stronger amongst lower supervisory, semi-routine and routine workers, and poorly educated. • But not social housing tenants or unemployed • For UKIP supporters no clear class profile but older and less likely to have degrees. • Far and populist supporters share similar attitudinal profile high levels of dissatisfaction with political system and low levels of interpersonal trust.
Evolution of anti-Muslim protest groups in two English towns • English Defence League, street-based English nationalist movement • Predominately working class support base, originally strongly connected to football casual scene • Local case studies of two English towns: • Blackburn, large Asian heritage pop + highly segregated • Luton, majority minority with large Asian heritage pop + ‘super-diverse’ • Appeal to EDL within certain sub-sections of the working classes but subject to local context.
A working class response? • Opposition to ‘militant Islam’ as coda for wider societal change • Vacuum at heart of English nationalism • Not just class but interaction between class and local demographic context • Resistance to change compounded by feeling that we were never asked-Political disengagement • How change is managed? • Wider political and media discourse • How so responses to change become manifest and which behaviours do we problematize?