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'Sleepwalking to segregation'?Challenging myths about race and migration$
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Nissa Finney

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420084

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420084.001.0001

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Making sense of race statistics

Making sense of race statistics

(p.22) (p.23) 2 Making sense of race statistics
'Sleepwalking to segregation'?

Nissa Finney

Ludi Simpson

Policy Press

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

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