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White flight, ethnic cliffs and other unhelpful hyperbole?
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White flight, ethnic cliffs and other unhelpful hyperbole?

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In an (unguarded?) conversation with a journalist, I talked about a 'cliff-edge' measure of segregation where neighbouring places have very different proportions of their resident population ...

In an (unguarded?) conversation with a journalist, I talked about a 'cliff-edge' measure of segregation where neighbouring places have very different proportions of their resident population classified as White British in the 2011 Census. The words, rephrased as 'ethnic cliffs' was soon coupled with talk of White Flight from British cities and has appeared in a number of national newspapers and magazines, alongside like 'self-segregation' and 'sundown segregation' (The Sunday Times and the Daily Mail). In this presentation I look at changes to the ethnic composition of census zones in England from 2001 to 2011 and ask whether such phrases are unhelpful hyperbole or simply vivid but accurate descriptors of "Britain's new problem" (Goodhart, 2013 writing in Prospect Magazine).

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    White flight, ethnic cliffs and other unhelpful hyperbole? White flight, ethnic cliffs and other unhelpful hyperbole? Presentation Transcript

    • + White flight, ethnic cliffs and other unhelpful hyperbole? Richard Harris
    • Greater London+ (change: 2001 to 2011)
    • Distribution of ethnic group by boroughs, counties and unitary authorities ● ●●●● ●● ●● ● ● ●● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●● ● ● ● ●● ●●● ● ●● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●● ● ● ● ● ● ●● ●● ● ● ● ●● ●● ● ●● ● ●● ● ● ●● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●● ●● ● ● ● ● ● ●● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● % White < 71.5 < 88.5 < 93.6 < 94.4 < 96.6 < 97.6 White: English/Welsh/ Scottish/Northern Irish/British ● ● Greatest percentage in Redcar and Cleveland Greatest contrast between Redbridge and Essex (c) Creative Commons Licence, Rich Harris
    • + Headlines n ‘White flight’ in UK as mass immigration leads to segregation (RT, May 6) n “600,000 move out in decade of 'white flight' from London” (Mail Online, Feb 20) n “Let's talk about the exodus of 600,000 whites from London - It is not wrong to discuss the cultural changes that large-scale immigration can cause, such as 'white flight' from certain areas in London” (The Telegraph, Feb 22)
    • + The Sunday Times (Jan 27, 2013)
    • + The Daily Mail online (Jan 27, 2013)
    • + At a much finer scale n There is a census small area in Tower Hamlets where 142 of its 258 residents classified themselves as White British in the 2011 Census (55.0%) and a further three as Bangladeshi (1.16%). Meanwhile, in a neighbouring area, 23 of the 211 residents are White British (10.9%) and 142 Bangladeshi (67.3%).
    • + At a much finer scale n There is a census small area in Oldham where one area has a total population of 247, of which 173 are White British (70.0%) and seven Bangladeshi (2.83%), whereas a neighbour has a population of 566, of which three are White British (0.530%) and 511 Bangladeshi (90.2%).
    • + But segregation is decreasing? n Ethnic segregation is falling in England (Catney, 2013) n A lower proportion of the White British population are now living in majority White neighbourhoods than did in 2001 – a finding that is as true of London alone as for the whole of England (Johnston et al., 2013)
    • Source: Johnston (forthcoming) Increasing diversity within increasing diversity: the changing ethnic composition of London’s neighbourhoods,2001-2011 White (2001) White (2011) 5 103 176 4 887 435
    • + However… n These are relative measures n Not straightforward to interpret over time Dt1 − Dt0 f Δ xi X[ ],Δ yi Y[ ]( ) t0 t1 Assume D1 < D0 Is it decreased seg.?
    • + For example n Consider those local authorities where the % of the residential population classified as Indian in 2001 was > 1.84% (top quintile) n Of these, 89% have “decreased segregation” by 2011 (Of the exceptions, Brent has the greatest increase) n But, amongst those 89%, 88% have lost White British population
    • + For example n Consider those local authorities where the % of the residential population classified as Pakistani in 2001 was > 1.04% (top quintile) n Of these, 92% have “decreased segregation” by 2011 (Of the exceptions, Burnley has the greatest increase) n But, amongst those 92%, 88% have lost White British population
    • + For example n Consider those local authorities where the % of the residential population classified as Bangladeshi in 2001 was > 0.32% (top quintile) n Of these, 94% have “decreased segregation” by 2011 (Of the exceptions, Kensington & Chelsea has the greatest increase) n But, amongst those 94%, 84% have lost White British population
    • + n It’s not just because the White British population is decreasing everywhere (it isn’t) n In the 214 (of 326) local authorities that didn’t meet any of the previous criteria, 81% had a growth in their White British population
    • + But, is it ‘white flight’? n It is important to understand that the proportion of white British Londoners fell so dramatically – from 60 per cent in 2001 to 44.9 per cent in 2011 – not only because of high levels of immigration but also thanks to a mass exodus of white Britons […] n White flight is an emotive term that suggests discomfort with the changing racial composition of a neighbourhood. Clearly there are many reasons why white British people might want to leave London […] but merely by considering where it is happening, there appears to be prima facie evidence that white flight has played a role. n  David Goodhart (Financial Times, Dec 26, 2012)
    • + Alternative perspectives n Migration and mobility n  To the BBC’s Home editor, Mark Easton, the decrease in the White British population in London is “a story of aspiration”,“a story of success” – a process of migration where traditionally working class (white) households have been financially able to move out from London’s East End, to the outer boroughs and then further beyond the city (Easton, 2013). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ uk-21511904
    • + Alternative perspectives n Not white flight but ‘white avoidance’ n Demos report (Kaufman, 2013) n White British people choosing not to live in ‘minority-dominated areas’ n Commenting on the report, the process is described as “majority retreat” by Trevor Philips
    • + Alternative perspectives n Why the preoccupation with White British? n Katwala (New Statements, Feb 20): “A fall in London’s ‘white British’ population does not mean the city is now ‘majority-migrant’”. n 63 per cent of Londoners were born in Britain n The population of London is 60 per cent white n Three-quarters of Londoners are British citizens http://www.newstatesman.com/staggers/ 2013/02/truth-about-londons-white-flight
    • + Alternative perspectives n Why the preoccupation with residential ‘segregation’? (cf. Cantle, 2012)
    • + Alternative perspectives n Assuming there is segregation, and supposing it is to some extent ‘voluntary’ are there circumstances when it, for example, cultivates civic virtues that promote the good of one’s community n See Equality, Citizenship, and Segregation: A Defense of Separation by Michael Merry (2013)
    • +And yet… Wordle of the comments in response to the Daily Mail online article
    • +Wordle of the highest rated comments on the Mark Easton article
    • +‘Highly rated’ comment in response to the Mark Easton article n Why have the White British left London? n “Some of the Areas have become very Asian oriented with shops that cater more for Asian people Halal Butchers, Bangladeshi Bakers, Mosques and Temples, local shops that are dominated by Asian foods and spices, and that cater very little for non Asian tastes. Is it any wonder the White people move out? People feel like strangers in the town where they were born.”
    • +Highest rated comment in response to the Mark Easton article n Why have the White British left London? n “They have left because they've been pushed out by migrants. A few weeks ago we heard of some Islamic "men" castigating a man for not being Muslim, asking if he was gay, and telling him to "get out, this is a Muslim area”. Their exact words were played on the radio so there was no doubt over it.Time for the govt. to do something about such migrants”
    • + n You can also find evidence of similar (although not perhaps as strong) sentiments in (the respondents of) e.g. n Dench et al. (2006) The New East End: Kinship, Race and Conflict. London: Profile Books Ltd. n Butler,T. & Hamnett, C. (2011) Ethnicity,Class and Aspiration. Bristol: Policy Press.
    • + White Flight, Ethnic Cliffs: Unhelpful hyperbole? n Simplistic, certainly. n Adds a rhetorical flourish of terror, panic, stark divides, etc. n Ignore other demographic and social processes n And yet…
    • + My dilemma
    • + But I am probably guilty of