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Research shows Multiculturalism is working in the UK

Roger Penn

Date: 24 August 2009

Watching soaps, reading tabloids and turned off by politics - the children of International Migrants in Britain show a high degree of cultural assimilation compared to their European Neighbours, according to a new study by Lancaster University.

Children of International Migrants in Europe presents the results of an international project that examined the situation of the children of international migrants in Britain, France and Germany.

The findings are based upon a survey of over 2500 young adults. These included Indians and Pakistanis in Britain, Maghrebians [North Africans] and Portuguese in France, and Turks and former-Yugoslavs in Germany.

The research not only provides new evidence but also challenges some of the popular assumptions made about children of international migrants living in Europe today.

A new book based on the research (Children of International Migrants in Europe) reveals:

  • Powerful evidence of cultural assimilation. Young Pakistanis and Indians in Britain preferred TV shows like EastEnders and Coronation Street. Most read the Sun and the Mirror.
  • There was no evidence of political radicalism. Rather, there was a general indifference to politics amongst all groups. Children of international migrants in Britain expressed very little interest in the politics of their parents' country. 71% of Indians and 43% of Pakistanis expressed 'no interest'. This contrasted particularly with Turks in Germany and North Africans in France.
  • Arranged marriages remained common amongst young Indians and Pakistanis in Britain. Indeed they were generally well accepted by them. However, such marriages took place at a significantly older age than in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Pakistani and Indian young women in Britain preferred to wear the salwar/kameez when outside the home but Pakistani and Indian men overwhelmingly preferred jeans and trainers.
  • Ethnic disadvantages within education were pronounced in Germany but far less evident in Britain. Indians and Pakistanis in Britain experienced much better relative educational outcomes than children of international migrants in France and Germany. Turks in Germany and North Africans in France fared poorly in the German and French educational systems. In Britain Indians and Pakistanis were three times more likely to enter a university than their counterparts in France and Germany.
  • All groups were multilingual: they could understand their parents' home languages as well as films and TV in such languages [eg Punjabi and Gujerati in Britain]. However, they generally used the host language [ie English in Britain] with their friends and their brothers and sisters.
  • Religion remained an important aspect of the day to day lives of children of international migrants. Amongst Muslim groups [Indians, Pakistanis, Turks and Maghrebians] there was limited evidence of secularisation. The general picture was of a complex religious mosaic in all three countries.
  • Religious differences remain more significant in Britain. 59% of Indians attended a place of worship regularly as did 38% of Pakistanis. However very few were members of religious organisations [15%of Indians and 8% of Pakistanis]

Professor Penn said: "Perceptions of discrimination were lowest in Britain and highest in Germany, reflecting the failure of the German model of exclusive 'ethnic nationalism'.

"Britain's model of multiculturalism is proving far more effective for the incorporation of ethnic minority groups than French 'assimilationist' or German 'ethnic nationalist' ones."

ROGER PENN is Professor of Economic Sociology and Statistics and Director of the EFFNATIS project at Lancaster University, UK. He is author of Skilled Workers in the Class Structure; Class, Power and Technology; Social Change and Economic Life in Britain.

PAUL LAMBERT is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling, UK.

Children of International Migrants in Europe, Comparative Perspectives, Roger Penn and Paul Lambert. To be published in Hardback on August 21st 2009.

This item was reported in: Children & Young People Now, MEN Asian News, Daily Mail, The Sun & The National (Washington DC) on 23/08/2009

 

Further information

Associated staff: Roger Penn

Associated departments and research centres: Sociology

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