Denying Discrimination: Status, ‘Race’, and the Whitening of Britain's New Europeans

Jon E. Fox*, Laura Moroşanu, Eszter Szilassy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


There is mounting evidence to suggest that East European migrants in the UK have been victims of discrimination. Reports of pay gaps point to the possibility of structural discrimination, restrictions on employment operate as a kind of legal discrimination, and politicians and the media have constructed East European migrants as different and at times threatening. The Hungarians and Romanians we spoke with in Bristol also reported some discrimination, albeit in ways that deflected its racialised connotations. But they also denied that they were victims of discrimination. Why would the supposed victims of discrimination deny discrimination? We argue they did this to attenuate, and potentially reverse, the status degradations they suffered as disadvantaged and at times racialised labour migrants in Britain. We examine two discursive strategies they employed to negotiate this higher status. First, they claimed a higher social class status by embracing the meritocratic values of the dominant class. Second, they claimed a higher racial status by emphasising their whiteness and Europeanness. These were discursive attempts to reposition themselves more favourably in Britain's racialised status hierarchies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729
Number of pages748
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


  • Discrimination Discourses
  • East European Migration
  • Racialisation
  • Status
  • Whiteness


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