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Irish migrants to England: Capitals, habitus and health

Irish migrants to England: Capitals, habitus and health

McGovern, Pauline (2014) Irish migrants to England: Capitals, habitus and health. In: British Sociology Association Medical Sociology Subgroup Annual Conference, September 2014. (Submitted)

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In this presentation, we explore the question: to what extent do people of Irish heritage, living in Great Britain, constitute a cohesive group that has distinctive socioeconomic and health outcomes? Over the last two centuries, Irish migration to Britain has dwarfed that of any other overseas group. For much of that time, they have occupied the lowest rung of the social hierarchy and suffered disadvantage and discrimination. Up to the 1980s, there was a widespread assumption that ethnicity was based on visible difference and that the Irish did not constitute a distinct group. Political pressure in the 1990s led to the inclusion of ‘Irish’ as an ethnic category in the 2001 censuses of Great Britain, but debate still remains about the extent to which this classification is sociological meaningful.

We use data from the Health Survey for England 1999/2004 and the Scottish Health Survey 1998/2003 to investigate economic inequalities, education, health and wellbeing in three generations of Irish migrants to England and Scotland. We explore the extent to which these generations are distinctively different from each other and from the reference groups of English and Scottish heritage. If, as many believe, the Irish are rapidly assimilated and do not retain a distinct identity or cohesive cultural practices, second and third generation migrants may be more similar to their English and Scottish counterparts than to the first generation Irish migrants. Key questions arise about whether this process is different in each reception country and whether Irishness continues to be racialised through the signifier of Catholicism.

This research investigates a relatively underexplored ethnic minority and adds to the academic discourse on race and social inequality. It also contributes to the debate about race relations policy in Great Britain and the provision of services that meet the needs of ethnic minority groups.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Inequalities, Ethnicity, Habitus
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2019 12:14

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