Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Ethnicity" - clumsy and inaccurate

There was an interesting item in today's Times (whose site is behind a pay-wall so no link)  under the heading "Ethnic identity is now a multiple choice question"

“Just as the joyless trudge through a government form is almost done, one final question remains: "What is your ethnic group?"

Those who view officialdom's interest in their cultural background as an irrelevance — if not a downright impertinence — will take heart from a new study that claims the surveys are clumsy and inaccurate ways of measuring the population.

More than two million people, including a quarter of those who called themselves "White Irish", gave one ethnicity to the 2001 census and another in 2011, according to an academic at the University of Manchester.

Ludi Simpson, the university's honorary professor for population studies, said data from the diversity questions that appear routinely on many government forms were "always a bit behind the times" and should be "taken with a pinch of salt".  He said: "Ethnicity is a fuzzy concept used by government and sociologists to explain and support the diversity of our society, but as individuals we don't fit into neat boxes. In an age of diversity, most Britons now take it for granted any form will include a section on their cultural background and sexuality but the bureaucratic mind is getting increasingly bewildered by the range of races which the form is now expected to embrace."

Professor Simpson found that 4 per cent of all people had "switched" their ethnic group after the 2001 census. Many who had previously called themselves "White Irish" changed their answer to "White British" when the 2011 census noted that the latter could include Northern Irish people, he said.

As  British  people  from different backgrounds intermarry and raise children, he believes questions of identity will only become more complex and difficult to track with official forms.

 Nevertheless, Professor Simpson said the information could still be useful. "It is the only way of asking the question, but the trouble is we don't stick to the same answer every time we fill in one of these forms," he said. "You should take it with a pinch of salt."

These questions are not only irrelevant and impertinent but politically and scientifically wrong.  They are just a cover for trying to identify a person's so-called "race".  They say it is about a person's "culture" but the thing about culture is that this has nothing to do with "race" and anybody is quite capable of adopting parts of any culture.  This is why it is our official policy not to answer the question about this in the census, as in this Resolution voted at our 2000 Conference:

“For the coming census in 2001 the Party adopt the same policy regarding the question on so-called "race/ethnic origin" as for the 1991 census, namely that members and others should be urged to answer "Other – Member of the Human Race".

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