The Relationship between Political and Ethnic Identity Among UK Ethnic Minority and Majority Populations

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Lucinda PLATT, Department of Social Policy, LSE, United Kingdom, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
Recent decades have witnessed a rapid expansion in sociological analysis of minorities' ethnic and national identity, and the ways this is linked to both levels of marginalisation and to constructions of belonging and anti-immigrant sentiment in countries of destination. Relatedly, a body of research has explored the link between minorities' ethnic identity and their political engagement. The drivers of majority ethnic identity have less often been examined alongside those of minorities, though studies that suggest that both context and contact between groups shape identities of majority and minority populations. In addition, the political mobilisation of majority ethnic identities by right wing populist parties, renders a more detailed understanding of how ethnic and political identities and the connections between them of substantial contemporary interest. Using Understanding Society, the UK household longitudinal study, a large-scale, nationally representative study with a substantial ethnic minority boost and a suite of multi-domain identity questions, this paper explores the relationship between ethnic and political identity across UK majority and minority populations. Locating the analysis within social identity theory, the paper posits that there will be underlying factors driving ethnic and political identity for both majority and minority. Jointly modelling the strength ethnic and political identity, net of individual’s general identification propensity, we find clear underlying associations of the unobservable factors driving both political and ethnic identity. We also observe that the latent drivers are stronger for majority and for more conservative / traditional respondents. Observed factors largely have similar associations for both political and ethnic identity for majority and minorities. However, the share of right-wing voters heightens ethnic but not political identity among both majority and minority populations, while discrimination shapes minorities' political but not ethnic identity. We also find that both political and ethnic identity both are stronger among second generation compared to immigrant minorities.