Promoting methodological innovation and capacity building in research on ethnicity
Final conference 'Methodological innovation in research on ethnicity' took place on 11 March 2011 at the University of Manchester. The conference highlighted methodological issues identified during the workshops and will identify key themes and methodological innovations.
This network focused on the methodological challenges raised when analysing ethnic inequalities and ethnic identification in contemporary Britain. By focussing on the methodological issues in ethnicity-related research, and debating potential solutions, it aimed to increase the methodological rigour of that research. The workshops brought together, and encouraged debate between, researchers using different methods and taking different perspectives. The workshops also included members of the non-academic sector.
This project consisted of four one-day workshops, a conference and a meeting.
- What is ethnicity? What methods best capture it? Friday 14 May, University of Essex
This first workshop addressed conceptual questions relating to definitions of ethnicity. Presentations considered three areas relating to the operationalisation of ethnicity in quantitative survey data: the development of multiple survey measures to fit varied definitions, based on preparative work for Understanding Society; developing a latent measure of ethnicity using multiple indicators from an existing, specialist data source; working with single categorical measures that are common to many surveys both in the UK and cross-nationally, and using additional information collected to maximise the information they could deliver.
- Methods to assess and understand the role of context in ethnic inequalities Tuesday 29 June, Royal Statistical Society, London
This workshop explored different methodological approaches to understanding the role of context in research on race and ethnicity. There is increasing interest in, and analysis of, the social, cultural, political and physical environment in research on racism and ethnicity. Research on racism and ethnicity has long been concerned with the interaction between individuals and context, framed at the macro, mezzo and micro level, and articulated in terms of the state and institutions, local areas and neighbourhoods, and social networks and interactions. While the significance of context is recognised there can be difficulties in capturing its complexity in social research.
- Research methods for new immigrant groups, Friday 10 September, University of Manchester
Many UK surveys of ethnic minorities target the largest and most established ethnic groups. In part this is because of the methodological difficulties of collecting reliable information on new migrants, which include not just small numbers but the status of some migrants (e.g. asylum seekers; illegal immigrants), language difficulties and the fluidity of the populations. However, these groups often have the greatest need for support services. This workshop focussed on innovative methods for estimating, and working with, immigrant populations.
- Mixed methods with large and small scale research, Tuesday 9 November, Sheffield
The workshop discussed recent empirical studies that sought to integrate mixed methodologies to explore and understand aspects of ethnic identity and ethnic inequality. Presenters discussed the conceptual and methodological challenges encountered and the solutions adopted. The workshop produced lively discussion and debate around the advantages and disadvantages of adopting mixed methodologies as well as alternative approaches to integrating and presenting findings derived from diverse sources.
- Conference: Researching ethnicity: what, why and how? Friday 11 March 2011, Manchester Conference Centre
The conference aimed to highlight some of the methodological issues identified during the previous workshops and offered an opportunity for reflection and discussion.
- Meeting: Researching ethnicity: ethics, politics and communication, Monday 16 May 2011, JRF, London
A further meeting, brought together 16 senior people from central and local government, charities and academia to respond to and discuss three short presentations: What research is needed and how is it used? Rob Berkeley, Runneymede Trust; Managing research outputs and dissemination Anushka Asthana, The Times; Getting things on the agenda Waqar Ahmad, University of Middlesex.
A website hosting data and methodological resources on ethnicity in the UK is currently being developed. For further information please see the project website or contact:
Professor Angela Dale
CCSR, School of Social Sciences
University of Manchester