Making sense of race statistics

Nissa Finney and Ludi Simpson

in 'Sleepwalking to segregation'?

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9781847420084
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303367 | DOI:
Making sense of race statistics

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This chapter takes a historical, political, and statistical view of the official collection of data that are currently labelled ‘ethnic group’, in order to better understand how they are used in the making of myths and, indeed, in the counterarguments to those myths. It presents a roughly chronological review of the development of race statistics in Britain in relation to specific policy arenas. It considers the influence of pre-20th-century eugenics, immigration control, anti-discrimination legislation, multicultural policy, and community cohesion agendas. It gives examples from three countries — Britain, France, and the US — of solutions to the dilemmas of how to measure race. It aims to demonstrate that the categorisation and measurement of race is highly contentious, with data serving several specific policy agendas. It concludes that ethnic group statistics in Britain have meaningful potential for assessing social conditions and social change.

Keywords: ethnic group; race statistics; eugenics; immigration control; anti-discrimination legislation; multicultural policy; community cohesion; Britain; France; US

Chapter.  8112 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Race and Ethnicity

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