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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).

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Theory, history, policy and practice

This new edition of a widely-respected textbook examines welfare policy and racism in a broad framework that marries theory, evidence, history and contemporary debate. Fully updated, it contains:

• a new foreword by Professor Kate Pickett, acclaimed co-author of The Spirit Level

• two new chapters on disability and chronic illness, and UK education policy respectively

• updated examples and data, reflecting changes in black and minority ethnic demographics in the UK

• a post-script from a minority student on her struggle to make a new home in Britain

Suitable for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in social policy, sociology and applied social sciences, its global themes of immigration, austerity and securitisation also make it of considerable interest to policy and welfare practitioners.

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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 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.

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