Race and Ethnicity: Impacts on UK Migration and Education

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Introduction: The Intersection of Race, Ethnicity, and Migration

In the past, especially in the UK, the scientific research on migration, ethnicity, and racism was essentially contiguous. The implications for this intimate link are evident in a setting where migrants or ‘immigrants’ meant racialized persons of Caribbean, Asian, and African ethnicity. One researcher noted the lack of a body of work making up a demography of migration since that concentration hid other types of migrants, especially ‘white’ migrants. Much study has been done on migration as the European Union expanded.

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Understanding Race and Ethnicity

Essential questions regarding how the linkage underlying race and migration is understood in an era of conflicting national and international immigration restrictions have been sparked by the many classification schemes used to describe immigrants who arrive from nations inside and outside Europe (Erel et al., 2016). In this case study, the essential concepts that will be emphasized are race, ethnicity, and migration.

Any of the groupings into which individuals are frequently subdivided based on physical characteristics thought to be shared by those with similar ancestry is known as a race (Merriam-Webster, 2019). On the other hand, ethnicity refers to a broad class of people with a shared history, language, culture, and customs. Asian and Asian-British, Black and Black British, Black Caribbean, Black Africans, Indian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani make up the majority of the minority population in the UK (Owen, n.d.). 

Defining and Delving into Migration

Migration is defined by the UN Migration Agency (IOM) as the movement of a person across an international boundary/border or within a State away from their place of residence, irrespective of the following factors: citizenship rights, whether the movement is consensual or involuntary, reason for moving, or how long the stay will be (United Nations, 2020). The study’s objectives are to explain social identity and ethnic identification, emphasize the reasons for and patterns of migration in the UK, and then examine social concerns that arise in a constitutional and judicial framework using pertinent theories, concepts, and empirical data to support assertions.

In the nineteenth century, the Englishman Ravenstein was the first to propose the pull and push theory of migration. This theory claims that people migrate due to forces that drive them out of their current country and draw them into another. This results from people wanting to be better off than they are at the time. The ‘how’ and ‘why’ of migration inside a territory or across borders, as well as the significance of international migrations to nation-states, are all explained by this theory. His writing claims that migration and development cannot be dissociated. He listed seven laws in his investigation, which are as follows: Migration is influenced by several factors, including distance, the stages it takes to complete, the number of migrants, and the distance they have traveled.

Other factors include the gender of the migrants, the level of technology, the number of migrants, the distance they have traveled, and, last but not least, the economic factors that have always influenced migration. In addition to Ravenstein, other academics, including Lee and Donald, have also attempted to apply this idea. According to Donald, the desire for opportunity and life improvement typically drives and affects migration abroad. International migration typically occurs when the ‘Pull’ variables at the receiving nation-state surpass the ‘Push’ elements at the person’s nation-state of origin. Donald refers to these ‘push’ and ‘pull’ variables as Negative (Push factors) and Positive (Pull factors) Pull factors.

Most researchers agree that these ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ factors that determine migration are demographic, economic, environmental, and social. Lee contends that ‘pull’ and ‘push’ migration theory can describe either positive or negative migration because ‘pull’ and ‘push’ are the two elements that cause migration. Lee also noted a few obstacles that may obstruct cross-border migration between two nations. He identified physical borders as the primary barrier, followed by cultural differences, distance, and language communication hurdles. Lee’s work explains the causes of international migration and the barriers to migration, which explain why most people find it challenging to migrate.

Historical Waves of UK Immigration

There have been numerous waves of immigration to the UK. Examples include refugees fleeing famine in Ireland in the 1850s; refugees fleeing civil war in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in the 1940s and later; refugees escaping political persecution in Uganda in the 1970s; people fleeing the West Indies in the 1950s; and people fleeing famine in Eastern Europe, Poland to be specific, in the period from 2004 to 2016 (BBC et al.).

Life in Britain for African descent deteriorated in the late 1600s. Increasing quantities of African immigrants, who generally worked as servants, were brought by the expansion of the British Empire and the trafficking of enslaved Africans. Others brought to England due to slavery joined the small number of liberated Africans already living there. While many arrived from the Caribbean and North America as servants to ship captains or planter families traveling to England or living there permanently, some came directly from the coast of West Africa. While slavery was not legal in Britain, it was in the colonies.

However, it is evident from court cases and advertisements regarding runaways that some Africans and Indians employed as ‘servants’ were not truly free. Court and parish records, however, demonstrate that numerous African and Indian migrants received the same treatment. The handling of servants spanned from compassion to brutality. Indian servants were occasionally promised a repatriation to their place of origin, but this never happened. Black people were occasionally forcibly sold as enslaved people in Britain, and several owners exploited their servants like slaves even though the law was supposed to protect them.

Most African people have led regular lives and shared their jobs with white maids, washerwomen, laborers, cooks, and sailors. Black people worked in various occupations, including farm labor, bartending, and innkeeping. Bonds frequently formed between white workers of lower economic status and black laborers. Black immigrants benefited from the social mingling of the working classes because it gave them a support system (BBC et al.).

Social Identity and Ethnic Identification

Social identity refers to how we perceive ourselves concerning others based on our shared characteristics. For instance, we can characterize ourselves according to our religion, origin, political stances, occupation, etc. People’s social identities can provide them with a feeling of self-worth and a structure for interacting with others and can also impact their conduct (Vinney, 2018). The social identity theory, which John Turner and Henri Tajfel developed in the 1970s, describes the circumstances in which one’s social identity takes precedence over one’s identity.

Additionally, the theory describes how social identity may affect intergroup behavior. The term ‘ethnic identity’ refers to how social identity and ethnicity are related. Sociologists have explored how ethnicity influences how individuals and communities develop their identities. Psychologists are keenly interested in racial and ethnic diversity concerns due to our society’s growing diversity. A person’s social identification within a larger framework based on affiliation with a specific societal or cultural group is their ethnic identity. According to the discipline, research on ethnic identity has originated from various fields, such as psychology, sociology, and anthropology, and has thus been framed and assessed in numerous ways. Psychologists have concentrated more on the person and the formation of ethnic identity on an interpersonal basis.

In contrast, anthropologists and sociologists have studied processes connected to ethnic identity at the collective level. According to existing conceptualizations in psychological research, ethnic identity is a multifaceted and multidimensional construct with the potential for significant variation among ethnic group members. Ethnic identity can alter during a person’s lifetime as they come into contact with various situations and other individuals, and depending on the situation, it may or may not become more or less important to that person. The Civil Rights period and growing immigration, for example, can impact how ethnic identity develops, highlighting once more the constantly changing nature of this concept (Iresearchnet.com, 2019).

Race and Ethnicity in the UK Education System

According to research, there is ‘widespread and ingrained discrimination and exclusion’ toward people of African heritage throughout the European Union. Racism-related crime, discriminatory police brutality and profiling, and discrimination in the education sector, employment, and housing markets were all too widespread. According to reports, racism is profoundly ingrained in the educational system, with disproportionately fewer teachers with Black, Asian, or other ethnic minority backgrounds. The opinions of 49% of young black people, who believe that racism is the main obstacle to academic success, reflect this.

As statistics indicated the small percentage of Black and minority ethnic personnel in high leadership roles, teachers have spoken out about the systemic and occasionally blatant racism they have experienced in the UK educational system. Adrian Rollins, a former pro cricket player turned teacher, has spent over two decades working in the UK education sector. He has taught at nine different schools. As Nottingham’s deputy headteacher, Rollins is one of the few black men who have succeeded in advancing to high leadership positions in his field. It has not been an easy transition for Rollins, 48, who left pro cricket at 30 following a severe wrist injury in 2003. He recalled how a student had previously targeted him with a racial slur.

Theoretical Frameworks and Future Implications

Rollins claimed that the school exhibited a general absence of diversity and that its lenient punishment of the student revealed its failure to combat racism. He alleges that in the ensuing months, he experienced several microaggressions, and his once-favorable evaluations started to change. Other educators shared their experiences, some of whom had to resign from their jobs due to workplace prejudice.

One teacher observed staff members jokingly refer to bigger groups of black children as ‘gangs.’ She also claimed that one staff member had made it a point to remind her to ‘keep my handbag near’ whenever a black student approached her. The teacher claimed that in addition to the children, she had also herself encountered racism, the majority of which she chose not to disclose out of concern for not being taken seriously. Her race was frequently brought up, and she was the target of offensive jokes or racist slurs (Parveen & McIntyre, 2021).

In order to better understand the critical role of race and ethnicity in academic experience, policies, identities, and achievements, as well as the overt and covert ways in which institutional racism operates and how such disparity can be confronted and eradicated, a variety of theory and research of race and racism have been utilized in the UK educational context.

Critical race theory, postcolonial theories, critical whiteness studies, Marxism, feminism, theories of ethnic, cultural, and social capital, post-structural concepts of race, concepts of social justice, theories of nationalism, Afrocentrism, systemic racism, post-racial theories, theories of hegemony, theories of institutional racism, anti-racist and intercultural theories, intersectional feminism, and intersectional feminist theory have all been utilized. This vast body of work strives to end racism and the use of race or ethnicity as a criterion for educational success and to bring race to the forefront in the discipline of education, where it is typically marginalized. Despite this, racism and race still have a place in UK education, and austerity politics have made racial inequities worse while, somewhat paradoxically, deracializing education programs (www.bera.ac.uk, n.d.).


  1. Erel, U., Murji, K., & Nahaboo, Z. (2016). Understanding the contemporary race–migration nexus. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39(8), 1339-1360.
  2. Merriam-Webster. (2019). Race. In Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary.
  3. Owen, D. (n.d.). Ethnic and racial groups in the UK. Ethnicity and migration.
  4. United Nations. (2020). Migration Report. UN Migration Agency (IOM).
  5. BBC. (n.d.). Waves of immigration. BBC History.
  6. Vinney, C. (2018). How social identity influences behavior. Verywell Mind.
  7. Iresearchnet.com. (2019). Ethnic Identity. Psychology of Racial and Ethnic Identity.
  8. Parveen, N., & McIntyre, N. (2021). Racism in the UK education system. The Guardian.
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Race and Ethnicity: Impacts on UK Migration and Education. (2023, Aug 30). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/race-and-ethnicity-impacts-on-uk-migration-and-education/