'Myths' threaten racial harmony, say population experts

22 Jan 2009

Race relations in Britain are under threat from a series of ill-informed myths according to a new book by two of the country's leading experts on the topic.

Using previously unpublished evidence, Professor Ludi Simpson and Dr Nissa Finney from The University of Manchester show how repeated falsehoods about immigration, integration and segregation are misguiding policy and promoting racial disharmony.

This is the basis of the authors’ new book ‘Sleepwalking to segregation? Challenging myths about race and migration’ published today by The Policy Press.

After years of investigation, the Manchester pair have found no evidence “whatsoever” for the existence of race ghettos in the UK. In fact the opposite is true with increasing ethnic mixing.

And claims by head of equalities watchdog Trevor Phillips that Britain is “sleepwalking” into racial and religious segregation are also dismissed in the book.

According to the academics' review of evidence, white flight is no greater than brown or black flight. And there is white movement into minority concentrations in Leicester, Bradford, Lambeth, Wolverhampton, Wyncombe, Manchester and Merton.

By linking social problems to segregated areas, they say, politicians have stigmatised the areas and their residents.

The authors also provide evidence that areas with large populations of Muslims do not act as a 'breeding ground' for terrorism.

“By propagating myths using bogus and alarmist interpretations of population change, individuals such as Trevor Phillips, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester and Sir Andrew Green, Chair of Migration Watch are inadvertently promoting racial segregation,” said Professor Simpson.

“Misunderstanding breeds mistrust and division between ethnic and religious groups. This book is about dispelling those myths. The truth is that Britain's so-called ghettos are diverse areas both ethnically and socially where no one ethnic group dominates.”

Dr Finney added: “The only concentrations which resemble anything like ghettos are of white people. The average white person lives in an area which has more than 94% white people in it.

“British Pakistanis, for example, live in areas which on average have 26% Pakistani residents. In almost every city with a sizeable immigrant settlement area, children of immigrants have on balance moved away from those areas not to them or between them. So it is wrong to argue there is retreat. Rather, we are witnessing dispersal.”

Notes for editors

Download a summary of some myths challenged in the book at https://www.policypress.org.uk/page.php?name=simpson

The book Sleepwalking to segregation'? Challenging myths about race and migration is published by The Policy Press on 22 January 2009 price £14.99 pb (ISBN 978 184742 007 7) £55.00 hb (ISBN 978 184742 008 4). It is available to buy from www.policypress.org.uk or from Marston Book Services, P O Box 269, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4YN (01235 465500) plus £2.75 p&p.

The authors are available for interview:

Ludi Simpson, University of Manchester
Nissa Finney University of Manchester

For media enquiries contact:

Mike Addelman
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Humanities
University of Manchester
Tel: 0161 275 0790
Mobile: 07717 881 567
Email: Michael.addelman@manchester.ac.uk

For further information and sample material, contact:

Kathryn King, Marketing Manager, The Policy Press,

Tel: 0117 331 4097 or Jessica Hughes, Marketing Executive, The Policy Press Tel: 0117 331 4096 email: jessica.hughes@bristol.ac.uk

The Policy Press (www.policypress.org.uk) is a leading social science publisher based at the University of Bristol and is committed to publishing books that make a difference.