Notes on: Kelley, N, Khan, O, Sharrock S (2017). Racial prejudice in Britain today.  NatCen. Social research that works for society. Runnymede Trust.

Dave Harris

There has been a long trend of social liberalisation affecting sex and sexual behaviour as well, and the long-term trend, uncovered by the British Social Attitudes Survey shows people thinking that racial prejudice 'has been on the increase or unchanged and (with the exception of 1991) have predicted a continuation of that trend when asked to look to the future. It seems likely that this picture is the result of both increasing awareness and decreasing social tolerance of racial prejudice' (5) [absolute figures vary between 50 and 40% of those thinking there is more racial prejudice now, about the same thinking about the same, and 15 to 20% thinking less]. When asking whether they consider themselves very prejudiced a little prejudiced or not prejudiced, more than 60% said they were not prejudiced, and about 40% said prejudiced, although 'there is good reason to assume that the actual proportion of the British public who are racially prejudiced may be higher' (6).

'26% of respondents described themselves as 'very" or "a little" racially prejudiced' [only 1% in the first category, 25% a little, and everyone else not prejudiced at all]. There seemed 'statistically significant relationships in three areas: sex, party political identification, and declared vote in the EU referendum' (7) [male, conservatives and leave voters] [again actual figures e.g. 18% versus 34% prejudiced for remainers as leavers]. They did not find a statistically significant relationship with 'level of education, social class, income, age and region' although there was a strong association between these and attitudes to immigration.

There has been an increase in sensitivity to prejudice, but it does not follow that people who describe themselves as racially prejudiced are doing so incorrectly [avoids the issue nicely] .The 2014 European social survey also asked questions about race — for example whether some races or ethnic groups are born less intelligent: 18% of UK respondents said yes, 'while a clear majority rejected this idea' (8) — 'a substantial proportion of the public'. 44 per cent of respondents thought some races or ethnic groups are born harder working, and older people and people with lower levels of educational attainment were more likely to answer yes. Gender and income were also statistically more likely with beliefs that some races and ethnic groups are born less intelligent but not that they were hard-working.[NB this EU survey found prejudice inthe UK was higher only than in Malta]

While there is not the same downward trend as we see with other social attitudes, the focus of prejudice may be changing. Respondents were more likely to perceive prejudice in others than in themselves. There is a 'significant and steady decline in the percentage of respondents who say that most white people in Britain and they themselves would mind a lot or mind a little if a close relative married someone who is black or Asian. [Down to about 60% for most people and 20% personally]. More people said they would mind, then described themselves as racially prejudiced. It was worse when asked if they would marry a person who is Muslim.

There is still evidence [not here there isn't]  that perceptions of black pupils among teachers or employers can have a negative impact, and there may be 'institutionalised racial prejudice within the criminal justice system [but not based on their survey data].

Overall 'inequalities associated with race are endemic in UK society, across income, education, work, health, and criminal justice [not just] extreme or overt forms of racism… All the more distant, impersonal concept of institutional racism' (12).

[This really is simple positivism. The questions are banal. What is meant by 'you'— you personally or 'one' [sometimes that is specified]? How on earth can respondents seriously say what most white British people would think? Is the question about Muslims or black people that they actually know or black and Muslim people in general? What about the ludicrous generalisations of the last bit? How were they to define races or ethnic groups, or terms like hard-working or intelligent? How reliable is the staff on party allegiance or indeed referendum vote for that matter? Does everyone agree on the difference between very prejudiced and little prejudiced, and what an earth are the surveys doing lumping those two together in their data?   Other dodgy aggregates include the data on 26% of the repondents being 'prejudiced' (but only 1% 'very'). How on earth can people judge whether there is more or less racial prejudice in the whole of Britain than there was five years ago?]