Here’s a link to a piece recently published by the Sociological Review that was co-written with my long-term friend and collaborator Özlem Young. Focusing on new research we undertook in Birmingham with Somali families in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum, the full piece can be read by clicking here.
The first few paragraphs are reproduced below too:
Brexit, Birmingham and Belonging: Anxieties About ‘Home’ Among Secondary Migrant Somali Families
Having obtained full EU citizenship status elsewhere (including in Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden), a significant number of Somalis have arrived in Britain since the year 2000. Research suggests that Britain was preferred as a destination of secondary migration on the basis that it was perceived to be more tolerant of cultural and religious difference. Maybe unsurprisingly, many settled in Birmingham, a city that not only has a long history of welcoming and being home to many diverse communities but one that has also been referred to as being the best place in Europe to be ‘pure Muslim’.
In making Birmingham their home, many of those that have settled have had families while at the same time creating organisations and services that support their cultural, theological and political needs. In doing so, they have established themselves as a distinct ‘community’. Birmingham is most definitely seen to be ‘home’; their sense of belonging to the city being routinely conveyed to us when we began to engage Somali families in the city as part of a research project that sought to explore the impact of Brexit on a number of different minority communities. As one of those we engaged put it:
“The number one factor here is the social life. I grew up in Sweden and Sweden was a very secluded environment where people kept themselves to themselves… But here in the UK, especially Birmingham, people do more outdoor activities, go to restaurants… whether it is sheesha, whether it is the gym, people are always outside. So that’s what I like…And the mosque community in the UK, especially Birmingham, is very active. There are always activities. Not necessarily religious, they could be any sort. People can come from outside, say government or schools, and you can have awareness of different issues. So you’re never bored in terms of that aspect.”
Because the Somalis we spoke to were European rather than British citizens however, the vote for Britain to leave the European Union threw any sense of ‘home’ or belonging they had into disarray.
Continue reading by clicking here.
On the eve of tomorrow’s vote about whether to remain or exit from the EU, I was one of a number of British Social Policy academics who put their name to an open letter making the case for EU membership.
Given that you need a subscription to read The Times newspaper online, the letter can be accessed via the Social Policy Association website by clicking here.
Alternatively, you can download a pdf copy here.
The text of the letter is copied below:
As scholars active in research and practice around social policy, we are concerned that a UK exit will have serious implications for many collective measures to improve wellbeing, counter mushrooming inequality and encourage real democratic participation. First any weakening of the UK’s economy undermines the resources for social spending. Second the EU has always recognised that an open economy requires forms of social protection to prevent trading competition between nations resulting in a race to the bottom. Third most of our leading partners in the EU – notably Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden – are sympathetic allies who have been pioneers in social policy whilst the UK is now in many respects a laggard.
In the modern world the economy is global; nation states can only protect their citizens if they work together. Of course institutions like the EU are imperfect from a simple democratic perspective but to opt out can only reduce our capacity to address issues like deprivation, migration, exploitation, pollution and climate change. We know that EU policy is not ‘dictated’ by Brussels ‘bureaucrats’. It is a protective association, a product of collaboration between nations, something to which modern democratic participation must aspire.