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Challenging myths about race, segregation and diversity

Our research challenges established positions on racial diversity and segregation in the UK, providing a key resource for NGOs, political parties and the wider policy community in the production of evidence based policy. In particular, it presents policymakers with alternative, better informed evidence on ethnic diversity and its effects in the UK, challenging the existing focus on managing the negative influence of cultural diversity and immigration.

Our research challenges established positions on racial diversity and segregation in the UK, providing a key resource for NGOs, political parties and the wider policy community in the production of evidence based policy. In particular, it presents policymakers with alternative, better informed evidence on ethnic diversity and its effects in the UK, challenging the existing focus on managing the negative influence of cultural diversity and immigration.

By challenging conventional wisdom on racial segregation, through an explicit strategy of ‘myth busting’, we have informed and shaped policy debate within government, improved public understandings of segregation and transformed thinking around ethnic and neighbourhood diversity.

The evidence base we have generated has shaped the practices of prominent race equality NGOs, such as the Runnymede Trust, in campaigns promoting alternative frameworks for understanding race, segregation and migration. Our work has also sought to challenge public concerns regarding integration.

Influential publication

Outdoor artwork depicting equality
Our work continues to address questions of ethnic segregation and local ethnic group population change.

Dr Nissa Finney and Prof Ludi Simpson are now recognised as expert commentators on issues of race, segregation and diversity.

  • The book based on their research, "‘Sleepwalking to Segregation’?", received extensive media coverage, and has informed a range of policymakers such as Jon Cruddas MP, who used it as part of a presentation to a House of Commons Select Committee. It is also informing the Labour Party Policy review;
  • Several local authorities are adopting Dr Finney and Prof Simpson’s methods for population estimation as they monitor and plan for population change;
  • The North of England Refugee Service (NERS) used Dr Finney and Prof Simpson’s demonstration of how myths about race and migration gain currency in its ongoing campaign to challenge negative and inaccurate media reporting of migrant populations.

Our research

We recognise that policy debate has tended to react to events, such as ‘race riots’ or the rise of far right politics, rather than be informed by evidence. Accordingly, our work continues to address questions of ethnic segregation and local ethnic group population change, focusing on:

  • The processes (not solely the outcomes) of population change in local areas, including the creation of innovative methods for estimating neighbourhood ethnic group population change;
  • An analysis of census and survey data, providing a direct and critical challenge to claims and ‘received wisdom’ about segregation and diversity, for example that ‘Britain is becoming a country of ghettos’ or ‘minorities don’t want to integrate’.

Key findings

  • Many common assumptions about race, migration and segregation are myths, for instance that neighbourhood population change is driven by ‘white flight’ or that racial segregation is increasing.
  • Natural change (the difference between births and deaths) is the main driver of local population change for many areas and ethnic groups.
  • Dispersal and counter-urbanisation are the dominant processes of migration within Britain, leading to greater ethnic mixing.
  • There are ethnic differences in levels of residential mobility.

Key people

Further information