Tag Archives: Vidhya Ramalingam

The Light of Evidence 3

This is my latest post on the COMPAS blog. Read the original here.

COMPAS’s original brief was to conduct research that provided new evidence, challenged assumptions, developed theory, and informed policy and public debate in the migration field: this remains true today. Our work has explored changing migration processes and outcomes. But informing migration policy has been an equal crucial part of our mission.

We have argued that academics play a key role in public life in addressing the gaps in the evidence base, interrogating underlying assumptions, and investigating the development of migration policy itself. In particular, we have worked to bring our own research, and that of the wider community of migration scholars, to bear on political and policy debate in the UK, with the hope of shaping a more fact-based – and less emotionally and ideologically driven – conversation about the phenomenon that is so central to our changing world.

In this spirit, for the last four years, COMPAS has organised monthly Breakfast Briefings in Westminster, to bring the latest research evidence on a range of migration-related issues to a policy-making audience.

These Briefings were funded from COMPAS’s core grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Now that our ESRC core funding period has ended, we remain committed to productively contributing to policy debates in the UK and beyond, and we are very pleased to have won funding from Oxford University for a range of Knowledge Exchange activities which we will launch after the summer, including a continuation of our Breakfast Briefing series. We are grateful too to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), an independent thinktank in Westminster which hosts the Briefings, making them accessible to policy-makers.

I summarised the 2011/12 series here and the 2012/13 here. In this post, I will describe some of the highlights of the 2013/14 series.

Local impacts of migration

The series began with a briefing by Jon Simmons, the head of the Migration and Border Analysis for Home Office Science, focusing on the local-level social and public service impacts of international migration, based on an important recent report from Home Office Science (which I blogged about here).

Earth “Global Village”Using a large suite of variables, the report allocated the local authorities of England and Wales to twelve clusters, ranging from “superdiverse London” through “Rural and Coastal Retirement Areas” to “Low Migration Small Towns and Rural Areas”, each with different types of migrant populations. Then the experiences of local authorities were analysed to start the processes of unpacking the huge variations in the social and service delivery implications of different types of migrant populations.

Jon’s briefing zoomed in on “Diverse conurbation centres”, such as Birmingham and Bradford, where long-settled BME populations have been augmented by on-going migration from the global South; “Migrant worker towns and countryside”, places such as Boston, Breckland and Thanet, with very few African and Asian migrants but large numbers of EU accession migrant workers arriving among an ageing, stable and relatively ethnically homogenous population; “Prosperous small towns”, such as St Alban’s or the towns of the Cotswolds, economically vibrant areas to which long-settled migrants are moving; and “Industrial and manufacturing towns”, such as Hartlepool or Merthyr Tydfil, deprived areas with among the fewest international migrants and most stable populations in the country.

The variation between such places – the very different ways in which migration patterns are re-shaping each of them – shows why our migration debate needs to go beyond the simplistic and frequently alarmist facts and pseudo-facts so often thrown around. But it also points to key gaps in the evidence base on migration at the local level. Understanding how place matters in migration and its impacts – capturing Britain’s new cartography of diversity – has become a research priority for COMPAS. Continue reading

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Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism: report published

This is the report based on the parliamentary symposium we organised last year for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism. The report is introduced by John Mann MP with an afterword by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. Press release:

Report explores what drives far right and radical Islamist movements in Britain

27 May 2014

A new report, ‘Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism’, produced by researchers from COMPAS and Birkbeck, University of London, for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, examines what drives extremism in British society.

It suggests that Islamist and far-right extremism are often two sides of the same coin with radical ideologies being embraced by people who feel marginalised as they appear to offer an explanation for, or an answer to, a sense of grievance or lack of opportunity.

The report, which offers new insights from ten leading academics and thinkers, says extremism and integration cannot be tackled at a local level alone. Nor can they be addressed in isolation from tackling issues of disadvantage and inequality. It suggests a unified national strategy is required to build community cohesion and integration, incorporating legal and policy responses, and with a renewed commitment to improving social mobility and racial justice.

Professor David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London, who co-edited the report, said: ‘Xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism are promoted by leaders and ideologues to drive many different forms of extremism. Their appeal to followers is rooted in social and political grievances. Intolerance and racism cannot be understood or fought in isolation from tackling their underlying causes.’

Report co-editor Dr Ben Gidley, Associate Professor in the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Integration – or a lack of it – is experienced at a local level on the streets of Britain’s towns and cities. This research suggests a more effective national strategy is needed to overcome barriers to integration; otherwise, there is a risk that we create conditions within which extremism can flourish.’

One of the report contributors, leading sociologist Professor Anthony Heath from the University of Oxford, identifies what he calls ‘the paradox of integration’. He suggests that second generation British Muslims are becoming more aware of inequalities in British society than their parents’ generation were. ‘Simple caricatures of Muslims as leading separate lives will not do,’ concludes Professor Heath. ‘Non-Muslim British citizens must do their part too to live up to the ideal of providing equality of opportunity for their Muslim fellow citizens.’

Professor Heath, who led the Ethnic Minority British Electoral Survey (EMBES) in 2010, found that while 94% of Muslims born in Britain expressed their national identity as British or English, compared with 66% of first generation Muslims who migrated here, their perceptions of discrimination and exclusion have increased: 46% of second generation British Muslims felt there was prejudice against Muslims as compared with 27% of the previous generation; 20% of second generation Muslims also felt discriminated against because of their religion as compared with 8% in the first generation.

The reasons why people support far right organisations, as well as the UK Independence Party (UKIP), in Britain are also explored. Vidhya Ramalingam, from the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), argues that there is ‘a wide reservoir of tacit support’ in Britain for ideas put forward by the far right. ‘The UK has historically been fertile ground for movements thriving on discontent with mainstream political institutions, popular xenophobia and euro-scepticism,’ she adds in the report. She suggests that although the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is not a right-wing extremist party, there are overlaps between its policy proposals and those of the far right. Her review of existing research concludes it is important not to stereotype these groups or their assumed support base as being from ‘the white working class’.

UKIP’s ‘narrative of divide and rule’ is explored by Professor Ben Rogaly from the Sussex Centre for Migration Research and Dr Becky Taylor from Birkbeck, University of London. They explore what is meant by the white working class, arguing that UKIP seeks to separate “strivers” from the “skivers” to justify cuts in benefits, and immigrants and ethnic minorities from the so-called indigenous population. Their research includes case studies in Peterborough of white working class individuals who have moved to the area, and assesses their views of international migrants. The authors suggest that politicians ‘should be bolder in articulating the structures which give rise to common experiences of inequality and disadvantage, rather than focusing on external markers of difference’.

Read the full report

Integration Disadvantage and ExtremisimMay2014FINAL

Continue reading


At the COMPAS blog: The Light of Evidence 2

This is my latest blogpost at the COMPAS blog. The original is here.

Working in a migration research centre, I have come to dread the point in the conversation with a stranger when they ask what I do. From cab drivers to school gate acquaintances, everyone seems to have an opinion on migration – usually a strong opinion, almost always an ill-informed one.

A recent poll by Ipsos Mori for the Royal Statistical Society found that we, the British public, think 31% of the UK population are immigrants; in reality, it’s just 13%. We think 30% of the population is Black or Asian and 24% is Muslim; it’s actually just 11% and 5% respectively.

flash lightOf course, the media and politicians play a major role in shaping such dramatic misperceptions, and perhaps there is relatively little academics can do to shine the weak light of actual evidence on to public debate.

I recently participated in a very interesting piece of research by Home Office Science on the vital question of the local impacts on public services, local economies and social cohesion associated with different kinds of international migration. I wrote a blogpost for The Conversation on the media misrepresentation of the report, probably partly shaped by the way the report was spun by the government to fit a particular agenda. A fellow academic wrote in OpenDemocracy on the same report, but argued that the very framing of the research questions was inherently problematic and that scholars need to be much more wary of collaborating in government research on this topic. While agreeing with many of his criticisms, my view is that the risk of getting our hands dirty by intervening in public debates is necessary if our work on social issues is to speak beyond the ivory tower.

One of the small ways in which COMPAS attempts to bring evidence into public debate is the Breakfast Briefings we have been organising for the last three years: monthly briefings from researchers on key immigration topics, aimed at Westminster policy makers. The Briefings aim to make complex issues easy to digest and provide a neutral forum for informed debate on the implications of the research tells us. I wrote a post here a year ago, entitled “The Light of Evidence” on the previous series. This post is about the 2012-13 season. Continue reading


Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism: parliamentary symposium

On 8 May, with David Feldman of the Pears Institute, I co-organised a parliamentary symposium on disadvantage, extremism and integration, for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.  You can follow some of the debate on Twitter with the hashtag #IntSym.

Pictures from the APPG:

Here’s the full details on the Pears Institute website:

Details: The Symposium will reflect on the government’s integration strategy and to do so in the light of both contemporary developments and recent scholarship. It will bring the most current evidence-based research to bear on urgent issues of policy for an invited audience of academic experts, policy makers and parliamentarians.Welcome and Introduction

David Feldman, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London John Mann MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

Session 1: Integration and Disadvantage Today

Introduction: Andrew Stunell OBE MP

Chair: John Mann MP

  • Ben Rogaly, University of Sussex and Becky Taylor, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Rob Berkeley, Runnymede Trust
  • Anthony Heath, University of Oxford

Session 2: Integration and Extremism

Introduction and Chair: Baroness Sayeda Warsi

  • Vidhya Ramalingam, Institute for Strategic Dialogue
  • Nasar Meer, Northumbria University
  • Dave Rich, Community Security Trust

Session 3:  Is Localism Sufficient?

Introduction and Chair: Gavin Barwell MP

  • Maleiha Malik, Kings College London
  • Ben Gidley, COMPAS, University of Oxford
  • Dean Godson, Policy Exchange

Concluding Remarks

David Feldman, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London

UPDATE: READ THE REPORT HERE

 

Podcasts:Click on a podcast to listen,
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Session 3:  Is Localism Sufficient? [via Backdoor Broadcasting]