Ethnicity in Politics Online Data Centre

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Social Sciences


The growing ethnic diversity of British society is a subject of great interest from the public, media and politicians. From such issues like the Muslim minority's political alienation and their potential links with political extremism and terrorism (Saggar 2009) to the under-representation of minorities from the governing elites (Speaker's Conference Interim Report 2009), ethnicity in the context of British politics is of increasing importance. The media, voluntary organisations, and even the public, are continuously handling these issues, but generally do not have good quality data and information at their disposal. The lack of awareness of academic resources is partly due to the lack of means and knowledge to use existing data among users. Partly however the fault lies within the academic community. Academic journal publications are expensive and usually use complex statistical techniques and specialist language; data are predominantly available in the form of a downloadable file in a format of an expensive and inaccessible statistical package or other difficult formats such as the Nesstar format used by the Economic and Social Data Service. In the user community there is little expertise, nor resources to tackle these obstacles. Users need to be presented with analyses that are accessible, usable, ready to cut and paste and addressed to them specifically. By working with one of the major users in the field- the Runnymede Trust- we will create a resource that will address this problem.

We propose to create an online data centre based around the new Ethnic Minorities British Election Study (EMBES) conducted after the last general and local elections in May 2010 (ESRC grant RES-062-23-1953), and covering many aspects of ethnicity in British politics. It is unlikely that non-academic users will have the time, resources or patience to seek out this rich source of data and analyse them on their own. A well designed and easily usable website that will have the support from an active member of a user community will do much better in giving the research users, the media and the public easy access to information that will not require statistical software or skills. We anticipate this will greatly increase usage of the data and its impact on public and policy debates.

Respondents' answers to EMBES questions will be presented in the form of interactive cross-tabulations and figures and will be easily accessible on the website. The main results will be explained briefly and in a non-specialist way. Most importantly the data will be presented in the form of graphs and charts, which will be easy to copy and reproduce in a form that will encourage a broad range of users. The charts will be interactive allowing users to amend them to their own needs in a very simple fashion. Where there is a relevant question in the main British Election Study 2010, from 1997 Ethnic Minority Election Survey (a predecessor to the EMBES), or from other studies such as the Citizenship Surveys (CS), comparison will be provided to put the answers of ethnic minorities in context. We will also present the findings of the EMBES survey in a broader context by adding other existing data on ethnicity and politics in Britain and featuring a 'news blog' to showcase the most interesting results of EMBES and other related research. All this will make our website a go-to place for any enquiries in the field of ethnicity and politics.

Additionally to presenting our data in an accessible, user-friendly format, we will also organise user seminars to train users in making the most of existing data sources on ethnicity and related issues, increase awareness of these data, raise issues of data quality and understanding simple analyses, and in turn listen to users' needs and expectations as to the presentation and accessibility of data. We will also organise a mini-user conference to launch our website and initiate an intensive publicity campaign to promote it.

Planned Impact

The proposed online Centre for Ethnicity in Politics aims to inform the public and the relevant stakeholders about the availability of data on ethnic minorities' in British Politics, so that the current debates about under-representation of minorities in politics, integration of Muslims and minorities' political interests and behaviour can be grounded in the best quality data and academic. We propose to achieve the aim of informing the public and main stakeholders in the field by following means:
- Document existing data in a form accessible to and usable by the wider public.
- Assure quality of sources, for example by providing correct context and comparison.
- Spread the knowledge of existing data- please refer to our publicity strategy in Case for Support.
- Deepen understanding by: providing short and understandable descriptions of the results and what they mean; providing information on new academic results and findings in the news blog; organising three seminars to inform and train users - and to obtain their feedback.
- Respond flexibly to any requests for relevant data and information and remain user-led.
- Broadening the circle of academics contributing to the news-blog to beyond the Applicants.

The beneficiaries of the proposed Centre and seminars will fall into four main categories: civic/voluntary sector organisations working in the area of ethnicity, such as local BME networks and charities; local government especially in areas where ethnic diversity and issues of social cohesion are particularly pertinent; media, whether national, local, or ethnic; and the general public interested in politics and ethnicity. As a result of Runnymede's role in various governmental advisory bodies we expect the national government may also be one of the users of this resource.


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