Chapter 8 in: Calder G., Cole P., Seglow J. (eds), Citizenship Acquisition and National Belonging, pp 141-155
Relatively little is known about what the ‘ethnic majority’ think about ethnicity and ‘national identity’ and indeed about whether they think about those things at all. Baumann (1996) has shown, in his study of Southall, that in a multi-ethnic social space where ‘white’ groups are numerical minorities, those communities (white English, Irish) do develop a consciousness of ethnic difference, including their own ‘ethnicity’. In many British and English social spaces this conscious majority identity will not be found in such an explicit way. It is difficult to be precise about what has prompted ‘awareness of ethnicity and nation’ (insofar as it can be detected) among the majority. Of course there is a visible multi-ethnic presence in most English/British cities and immigration is persistently debated in public political discourse; there is also a politics of multiculturalism, which includes a reactionary antimulticulturalist discourse. But in general how the majority public views ‘multiculturalism’ is little understood. Even if we acknowledge these factors (multi-ethnicity, immigration debates), it is not obvious that the majority will begin to view daily life, and national political life through a predominantly ethnic lens, and certainly not that they will see themselves as ‘ethnic’.