Can we be categorised by our DNA?

Here’s an accessible online post on how genetics (DNA) and ethnic groups relate. Using colours as an analogy, the post and the video do an excellent job in explaining why ethnic differences are socially constructed.

For further explanation around the video, check out the original post: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/science-maths-technology/can-we-be-categorised-our-dna by Kaustubh Adhikari where you can learn how scientist refuse to refer to human “races” despite seemingly conspicuous difference!

2022 Cross-Institutional PhD Colloquium: Ethnicity and Migration — call for abstracts

8-9 June 2022

The ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC), the Essex Centre for Migration Studies, UEA Migration Network and Sussex Centre for Migration Research invite PhD research students to submit their abstracts for presentation at the 4th annual Cross-Institutional PhD Colloquium on Ethnicity and Migration.

The conference will be in hybrid (online and in-person) format, and students will be eligible for a £150 bursary to offset the cost of attendance.

Please submit a 500-word abstract that states your research question, methods, and results by 4 April 2022.

Full call and details how to apply: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/2022/03/01/2022-cross-institutional-phd-colloquium-ethnicity-and-migration-8-9-june-2022-call-for-abstracts

Ethnic discrimination in hiring: UK edition

The BBC report on a large correspondent test in the UK carried out by the excellent GEMM project. It’s good to see this reach a wider audience; it’s sad to see the results from our meta-analysis confirmed once again.

British citizens from ethnic minority backgrounds have to send, on average, 60% more job applications to get a positive response from employers compared to their white counterparts

What I really like about this short report by the BBC is that the essentials are covered. Yes we see discrimination, but no, it’s not so bad that none of the minority applicants would ever succeed. They also start the piece with an example of someone changing their name on the CV as a strategy to counter expected (or experienced) discrimination — and they highlight that discrimination has not declined despite policy changes, and indeed that discrimination affects native citizens who happen to have a ‘foreign’ name: they pay for an action of their parents or grandparents.

Are employers in Britain discriminating against ethnic minorities?, GEMM project: PDF of report

Zschirnt, Eva, and Didier Ruedin. 2016. ‘Ethnic Discrimination in Hiring Decisions: A Meta-Analysis of Correspondence Tests 1990–2015’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42 (7): 1115–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2015.1133279.

Limits of Descriptive Representation

There are many benefits of including minorities of power in decision-making — so-called descriptive representation. This is the case for women who remain numerically under-represented in legislatures around the world, but also ethnic minority groups, and other minorities.

There are, however, practical limitations to including different groups and subgroups in legislatures. Goodin (2004) highlights that there is a tension between including members from different groups and subgroups on the one hand, and the practical ability to debate in the legislature – thus rob them of the possibility of substantively represent their particular subgroup. Goodin highlights that legislatures and governments need not include all groups and subgroups in society to represent the fact of diversity. While this observation highlights why it is impossible to include every subgroup all the time, it should not distract from the need of including ethnic and regional minorities in processes of decision-making, and certainly not be seen as a licence to exclude large groups of society.

It might be helpful to take a longer-term perspective here: rather than focusing on the absence of particular (small) groups in society in any given legislature, focus on persistent exclusion over several legislatures. And bear in mind that representatives act on behalf of groups not directly included in decision-making — so we should also focus on the representation of interests (though this is much harder to do than simply counting, of course).

Goodin, R. 2004. «Representing Diversity». British Journal of Political Science 34 (3): 453–68. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007123404000134.
Ruedin, Didier. 2013. Why Aren’t They There? The Political Representation of Women, Ethnic Groups and Issue Positions in Legislatures. Colchester: ECPR Press.

Image: CC-by-nc by Guilherme Sales