Political Mobilisation by Minorities in Britain: a negative feedback of ‘race relations’?

P Statham

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

51 Citations (Scopus)


This article uses a political opportunity approach to study the relationship of minority groups to the political community in Britain. The main argument is that the British race relations approach established in the 1960s had an important effect that still shapes the patterns of political contention by different minority groups today. Original data on political claims-making by minorities demonstrate that British 'racialised' cultural pluralism has structured an inequality of opportunities for the two main groups, African-Caribbeans and Indian subcontinent minorities. African-Caribbeans mobilise along racial lines, use a strongly assimilative 'black' identity, conventional action forms, and target state institutions with demands for justice that are framed within the recognised framework of race relations. Conversely, a high proportion of the Indian subcontinent minority mobilisation is by Muslim groups, a non-assimilative religious identity. These are autonomously organised, but largely make public demands for extending the principle of racial equality to their non-racial group. Within the Indian subcontinent minorities, the relative absence of mobilisation by Indian, Sikh and Hindu minorities, who have achieved much better levels of socio-economic success than Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims, suggests that there is also a strong socioeconomic basis for shared experiences and grievances as Muslims in Britain. This relativises the notion that Muslim mobilisation is Britain is purely an expression of the right for cultural difference per se, and sees it as a product of the paradoxes of British race relations.
Translated title of the contributionPolitical Mobilisation by Minorities in Britain: a negative feedback of ‘race relations’?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597 - 626
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999


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