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This chapter examines the situation of people from minority ethnic groups who have a disability or are living with a chronic illness. First, we discuss the complex relationship between the (general) overrepresentation of minority ethnic groups living in material deprivation (see Chapter 8, this volume) and the significance of this for the prevalence of impairments. Second, we consider the implications of a social model of disability for minority groups, arguing that ethnicity and disablement need to be theorised within a framework of intersectionality, as explained earlier, in Chapter 2. Gender, life course and socioeconomic position – and, in addition, societal norms and values related to impairment and disability – are central to this analysis. This is why we specifically and critically examine the position of minority ethnic groups in official statistics on disablement. Third, we consider how a service provider’s assumptions might lead to impoverished service quality. Finally, we look at the changing policy context for disablement and ethnicity, and how neoliberal policy questions the entitlements of people with disabilities and of minority groups, and in particular their rights to ‘deserving’ citizenship.
Having reminded ourselves in Chapter 2 that there are divisions within minority ethnic communities, in terms of country of birth, migration status, gender, sexuality, religion, language, age, socioeconomic status, and residential location, we next need to consider that there may be patterns of association between ethnic minority groups, disablement and levels of chronic illness. There are two ways of thinking of this relationship: structural or identity-sensitive, although these are not mutually exclusive (see Chapter 2).
Policy Press approached us in late 2016, to commission a second edition of this book, reiterating the centrality of ‘race’ and ethnicity to social policy and related disciplinary areas informing practice. We are pleased to bring together the revised and updated chapters, and would like to thank all the authors, including those who contributed to the first edition and those who have taken their place in this second edition, for their valuable contributions. We are especially grateful to Kate Pickett for writing the Foreword and Samara Linton for sharing her blog which appears as the Postscript.
As we noted in the first edition, ‘race’ is a highly contested area and one where many people, including key politicians, feel that the ‘race’ agenda has now largely been addressed. Indeed, John Denham, the outgoing Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in 2010, argued that ‘it is time to move on from “race”’, and one of Theresa May’s first comments, on becoming Home Secretary that same year, was that ‘equality [including race equality] is a dirty word’. This view was given additional impetus by George Osborne’s (Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2010 to 2016) association of the Equality Act with needless red tape that was restricting the growth of enterprise, a view that belied any commitment to hard-fought social justice as we understand it or to a concern with equality, respect, recognition, fairness and democracy (see ‘The Red Tape Challenge’ at www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/equalities). In the last few years, as one of us has argued elsewhere (Craig, 2013), there appears to have been a more or less systematic attempt to erase or ‘invisibilise’ a discussion on ‘race’ and ethnicity from public policy.
Migration to the UK did not start, as many believe, in 1948, nor is racism a recent phenomenon. Although the post-Second World War was a period of substantial migration, minorities have lived in the UK for over 2,000 years, and have experienced racism in many forms. Key events in the early part of the Common Era (CE) period are listed below, but see Olusoga (2016) for a full account:
A succession of European invasions involving Romans (Italians), Vikings (Scandinavians), Saxons (Germans) and Normans (French). The Roman army brought with it Black Sudanese slaves.
Black people settled in Britain soon after, whose remains have been found in archaeological digs.
The first recorded institutionally sponsored racism was against Jews in the 12th century, many of whom had arrived in the previous century. Jewish families were persecuted and killed. King Edward I (1239-1307) forcibly expelled the Jews in 1290; most were not readmitted until Cromwell’s time, in the 17th century.
The first Muslims came to Britain in the 12th century; Queen Elizabeth I later offered to form an alliance against Spain with a Moroccan Islamic leader.
People from Wales, Scotland and Ireland also migrated to England – forming ‘Celtic minorities’ – for a variety of reasons, including intermarriage.
Millions of native Irish migrated to the UK and elsewhere, escaping poverty and famine, and now form one of the largest minorities within the UK. They were recognised in the 2001 Census, which introduced the category of ‘White Irish’. Gypsies were first recorded in the British Isles in the early 15th century, labelled as such due to their perceived resemblance to ‘Egyptians’.
Minority ethnic communities’ experience within the housing system in the UK can be understood in the context of post-colonial immigration and settlement, growing progress towards ‘race’ equality and wider changes in providing housing for people on low incomes. More recently, it should also be viewed within the context of policy shifts, an increasingly hostile environment to migrants and the outcome of the referendum in the UK on European Union (EU) membership. Drawing on research conducted in England and Scotland, this chapter begins by considering some of the key issues affecting minority ethnic groups’ access to housing and their experiences within the housing system, including the sharp end of lack of access to housing, that is, homelessness and changes in housing tenure. It then considers minority ethnic participation within the system through the rise and decline of Black-led housing associations in England. Finally, the chapter concludes by considering some recent policy initiatives and their potential for overcoming some of the difficulties discussed.
In the UK, responsibility for housing resides within central government, with local authorities and voluntary sector agencies implementing centrally driven policies (Edgar, 2004), with some local variations. Social housing – which is subsidised by the state – is one of the main ‘planks’ of the housing safety net that provides a level of protection for poor and vulnerable UK nationals. Access to social housing – as in many other Western European countries – is conditional on citizenship status (Netto et al, 2015). Undocumented migrants or asylum-seekers are thus not eligible for social housing.
This chapter contextualises the position of minority ethnic groups in the labour market. It considers the four dimensions of labour market disadvantage suggested by Thurrow (1969): lower earnings; higher unemployment; reduced access to educational and training opportunities; and occupational crowding in less desirable jobs. It also considers other aspects of the labour market, including employment rates and industries of employment, which collectively portray the relative position of minority ethnic groups compared to the majority, White British population. Using largely census data, this chapter highlights the diversity between different groups. It then presents the literature on explanations for disadvantage. The evidence used in this chapter draws on historical references to provide a context with up-to-date evidence, where it is available, to see what improvements, if any, have been made since the first edition of this book was published. What is clear is that minority ethnic groups continue to experience disadvantage in a number of ways in the labour market (Catney and Sabater, 2015).
The growth of the minority ethnic population in Great Britain since the Second World War has been driven by three factors: immigration in response to a demand for labour; refugees seeking asylum; and natural rate of growth (see Chapter 3, this volume). The chapter in the first edition provides a short history of the major groups and dates of their immigration (see Virk, 2012, p 168). As Chapter 3 demonstrated, England and Wales has become more ethnically diverse, with the numbers and size of minority ethnic groups continuing to rise since 1991.
As we saw in the last chapter, migrants have entered the UK since Roman times. However, numbers were relatively small until the end of the Second World War. Since then, Britain has experienced increased levels of immigration, driven by the need for economic reconstruction and expanding public services. Levels accelerated during the 1960s, but a restrictive immigration policy and a slowdown in economic growth reduced numbers. Migrants have become more diverse, coming initially from former British colonies, but increasingly from countries less connected to the UK. By the beginning of the 21st century, some cities were hosting people from more than 100 ethnic or national origins. Diversity is now ‘super-diversity’ (Fanshawe and Sriskandarajah, 2010; Craig et al, 2016).
By the 1980s, as we saw in Chapter 3, a substantial proportion of the UK minority ethnic population was UK-born, and by 2011 around 50%. While political concern, fuelled by media panic and right-wing agitation, has led to punitive restrictions on immigration, governments have also sought to manage multiculturalism through policies known as ‘race’ relations, community relations and, in the early 21st century, community cohesion. Consequently, restricted immigration practices exist alongside policy (and legislative) commitment to tackle discrimination and racism, although this latter commitment has weakened in recent years. Community cohesion policy has also been weakened as ‘race’ has been afforded a lower profile.
During the first half of the 20th century, White Jewish, Polish and Irish immigrants and refugees were important sources of semi- and unskilled labour for the UK. However, these groups experienced racism, hostility and scapegoating, just as migrant workers do today (Brown, 1995).
Complex factors have produced consistently higher poverty levels among Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups, while different patterns and levels exist across and within these groups. This chapter examines the relationship between poverty and ethnicity, and evaluates explanations for differing patterns of racial and ethnic outcomes. The chapter begins by looking specifically at poverty and social exclusion among Gypsies and Travellers, who historically have tended to be excluded from debates. Within this chapter, following common terminology, we refer to this ‘group’, which constitutes at least three distinct groupings, as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT). The chapter also considers the impact of austerity on different ethnic groups, before looking at the provision of social assistance and assessing the links with immigration policy and the ongoing creation of destitution among some groups of asylum-seekers. Subsequently, the pattern of take-up of state benefits by minority ethnic groups is examined and, finally, a selected set of policy interventions is evaluated, which shows a mixed picture of opportunities and challenges in this field. This chapter further develops the analysis of racism, ethnicity, migration and social security to be found in Law (2009).
Low incomes and social exclusion (other forms of severe and chronic disadvantage) together constitute the notion of poverty used in this chapter (see The Poverty Site, 2010). Contemporary debates on poverty among minority ethnic groups in the UK tend to focus on groups where there is adequate empirical data from censuses and surveys, while groups that are not enumerated or that are ‘hidden’ within other categories are ignored in academic and policy debates.
This chapter deconstructs the theoretical underpinnings of ethnicity and traces its relationship with ‘race’ and nationality, by turning to empirical examples from both our past and our present. The elections of Donald Trump as the President of the USA and of Sadiq Khan as the Mayor of London (the first person of an Asian/Muslim heritage to be elected as the mayor of a major European capital), in the context of the larger global landscape of terrorist violence and perceptions of national security, remind us of the enduring nature of these debates. While the chapter largely draws on the UK context, there are parallels with broader, contemporary debates on multiculturalism, austerity and securitisation within a global context.
It is argued in this chapter that, given the historical roots of ethnicity as a euphemism for racism in general and cultural racism in particular (through focusing on cultural and religious difference rather than the physical characteristics of ‘race’ per se), the field of ethnicity has remained highly specialised and marginal to mainstream academic, policy and practice discourses in the UK. While highlighting policies and practices that sustain disadvantage and discrimination, which have slowly prompted an (albeit) uneven shift towards a more inclusive society, a focus on ethnicity has also ironically reinforced the marginalisation of people from minority ethnic communities, often making them (‘special’ and) peripheral to broader debates about politics and citizenship. The field is thus marked by continuities and discontinuities, prompting us to recognise various contradictions at different levels. The conceptual and pragmatic tensions within policies related to immigration and particular ‘immigrant’ groups will be explained in greater historical detail in Chapters 3 and 4, and through specific case studies of particular policy areas outlined later, in Part Two.