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Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity

Politics, representation and ethnic minorities

This work package approaches political structures as institutions and will examine processes within them.

Over recent years the political landscape has changed markedly in relation to ethnicity. While there have been relatively rapid improvements in the representation of non-White minority groups in Westminster (increasing from 16 MPs before the 2010 general election to over 40 following the 2015 general election and 52 in 2017), ethnic minority people remain under-represented in parliament in relation to the general population. There is very little research on the ethnicity of local councillors, but the most recent census (2013) showed a much lower representation of ethnic minority groups in local government (3%) as compared to parliament (8%), with particularly low levels for ethnic minority women (Audickas et al. 2017). In this context, this work package approaches political structures (parties and central and local government) as institutions and will examine processes within them to address the following questions:

  • What is the experience of ethnic minority people in local and national politics? How is this experience shaped by class, gender, generation and religion? How do the policies and practices of the major political parties shape the recruitment and progression of ethnic minority people in formal representational politics?
  • What is the relationship between descriptive representation of ethnic minority people and substantive representation of relevant issues at both local and national level?
  • How are the distinct voting patterns and party allegiances of ethnic minority people changing and what is driving any changes?
  • Are these trends in ethnic minority people’s political behaviour different from those of the ethnic majority, or do they follow similar class, gender and regional trends?