Explain and briefly evaluate the view that ethnicity is the most important source of identity in the contemporary UK. Ethnicity is can be viewed as the most important source of identity in the UK because of many factors and views. In a Marxist view there are only two classes and ethnic minorities that are part of the working class which is divided by racism and therefore enhances the control of the ruling class which means that a more dominant race can have full control over the minorities and gives them the identity of the equivalent of a slave or a minor.
Castles and Rosack (73) found that ethnic minorities tend to do the worst paid jobs and form part of the reserve army for labour who are not required in times of recession and can therefore be easily dropped from the workforce if the society around them will benefit from it.
In a Functionalist view immigration is a temporary threat with will be overcome through integration and the acceptance of dominant norms and values, it is functional to have ethnic minorities in low paid jobs as they carry out the roles others do not want, therefore they are seen as people who just fill gaps in society is basic jobs just because of the bad pay that the dominant races do not want. Patterson (65) said the acceptance of dominant values would lead to better integration. He also believed that is was skin colour rather than immigration.
From this study we now see that the contemporary UK was racist and using the immigrants to do the worst jobs because they seemed to not care about the pay as long as they were at least getting some money. An ethnic source of identity would be the family. Butler (95) said that Asian people who came to the UK wanted to preserve their traditions but in the UK instead; so they wanted to bring their culture into the UK culture and integrate into society whilst keeping their home-grown identity.
Ghuman (99) said that during primary socialisation in an Asian family, the parents would make the children learn their own norms, values and traditions in order to keep their identity, however this could be seen as a bad idea in the UK as they could be singled out and vulnerable the UKs racial impressions towards minorities. This was, in my opinion, the most important source of identity as children were learning their ways of life from their family and bringing it into the UK’s society and making them stand out.
Another ethnic source of identity is the Peer Group. Sewell (04) said the pressure in the peer group is extremely important in shaping ethnic identity among Afro-Caribbeans in inner city areas. Because they were more likely to drop out of school and turn to the streets and gang-like behaviour, they wanted to fit into their peer groups by wearing what that gang would stereotypically wear and act like the stereotypically would too.
Alexander (96) said that peer groups were crucial in the art of being black; this shows that being black wasn’t just an identity but a way of life in the UK as they wanted to stand out and stand up for who they were and not lose their identity which refers to the question and shows that being in a peer group shaped your sense of ethnic identity in the UK because again, it was like a way of life and how you had to act to fit into society.
In conclusion, it can be seen from Butler’s and Ghuman’s theories that keeping an ethnic minorities norms, values and traditions strong in another society such as the UK’s was important as it allowed them to stand out and be themselves, which is seen as a very important sense of ethnic identity in order to keep themselves as they are.
It can also be seen that Sewell’s and Alexander’s theories about the peer group that the ethnic identity in a peer group was a way of life and again kept themselves as they are in order for them to stand out in a sense of ethnic identity in the contemporary UK. Just these two agents of socialisation, we can see that to a minority, it is important to not lose their normal way of life no matter where they live, and in the UK, bringing in their ethnicity was so that they didn’t have to change who they were to fit in, but stand out instead.