sociology

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Overview Of Culture Diversity Sociology Essay

Culture is "the totality of a societys distinctive ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge" (O. Serrat, 2008, P.22). Culture diversity is increasing in most advanced countries, due to a sharp rise in immigration. The increase in Culture and social heterogeneity is one of the most significant challenges confronting modern societies (Putnam, 2007). Manchester, globally renowned for its cotton industry, is a major city situated in the North West of England, the second largest economic region after London. “Immigration has played a key role in Manchester’s history and development and the resident population includes people from over 70 different countries” (ICAR, 2010). After the second World War the migrant communities arrived in great numbers to help rebuild the industries. The immigrants were mainly from the Commonwealth including India, Pakistan, Jamaica and West Indies, and also from Ireland and China.

Manchester has a unique sense of national and cultural diversity. According to Taylor et al (1996) the city’s strategic location between a geographic frontier to the north, and an economic frontier to the south, and its distinctive regional openness enabled it to become a kind of Eldorado. From the early nineteenth century, not only English labourers from neighbouring areas, but people from other countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Germany, from Greece and Italy migrated towards Manchester.

In this essay will be discussed via many topics:

Racial segregation, clustering and co-existence.

Demography and socio-economic conditions of ethnic groups.

Poverty in relation to health of the ethnic groups.

Length of time in the United Kingdome: impact of ethnic diet.

Muslim Diaspora.

Asians community.

Jewish community.

The Irish immigrants.

The Racial segregation, clustering and co-existence are Significantly appear in Manchester, specific localities became colonized by particular migrant groups. Most of the 30,000 Irish immigrants clustered together in Little Ireland at the lower end of Oxford Street, and large numbers of poor, rural immigrants from Cumbria settled in different areas. In contemporary Manchester, it is evident that ostensibly similar, geographically close regions are occupied by diverse ethnic groups of different ethnic mixes. A common feature for all the ethnic minorities is their shared experience of generalized subordination under the white “host society” of England (Taylor et al, 1996).

Thus, Manchester has been colonized in whole areas by particular ethnic or migrant groups: Moss Side by West Indian; Cheetham Hill by Asians; Prestwich by the Jewish; Chorlton by the Irish, etc (Taylor et al, 1996). Further, the borough of Manchester, the central city in the agglomeration forming Greater Manchester, is the main location of residence for the Black ethnic minority group (Musterd et al, 1998).

Taylor et al (1996, p.200) express their concern that “this process of residential dispersal and domination results in a kind of de facto apartheid of different ethnic groups”, which opposes the liberal concept of a multicultural community of people sharing the same resources and spaces of the city. This ideal of residential coexistence of communities belonging to diverse ethnic backgrounds is found in some areas of Greater Manchester, at Cheetham Hill, Old Trafford and Whalley Range, similar to some multiracial localities in the United States. However, these do not “display the self-confidence and zest associated with the prize cities of the American Rainbow Coalition. Further, Manchester’s China Town and on the Rusholme “Curry Mile” the shopping areas and restaurants are used by people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, including the white majority population, the Mancunians.

Taylor (1996, p.205) argues that Manchester has a “metropolitan and cosmopolitan status as an international city”. This is based on the presence of significant numbers of non-white population, who are visible in public roles, in sports, and in all public spaces.

The demography of ethnic groups in Greater Manchester according to 2009 estimates are: White including British, Irish and others: 88.9%; mixed Race constituting white with other ethnic groups such as Black Caribbean, Black African, South Asian, and other: 1.56%.; South Asian consisting of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and other: 6.52%; Black including Caribbean, African and other: 1.71%; East Asian consisting of Chinese and other: 1,31% (ONS, 2009).

Manchester, with its higher rates of unemployment and low wages among ethnic minorities has a lower mean annual gross pay at 23,296 pounds, as compared to that of the United Kingdom at 25,792 pounds (Simpson et al, 2007). There is a wide difference in the socio-economic conditions of ethnic groups in Manchester, particularly between Blacks and Indian Continent. A low 32.1% of owner-occupied houses belong to the Black Caribbean group, while 60% of owner-occupied houses belong to Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis (Musterd et al, 1998). Manchester has a rapidly changing population, and needs to understand the migrant population better. Manchester Primary Care Trust (2008) covers 23% Black and ethnic minority population consisting of 6% Pakistani, 2.1% Black Caribbean, 2.6% Black African, 2.2% Indian, 1% Bangladeshi, 2.2% Chinese. The majority of the Trust’s 441,000 people covered, live in the city’s most deprived wards, causing extensive health and economic disadvantages for the ethnic minorities.

A higher unemployment rate in Manchester at 5.6% as compared to the United Kingdom's 4.1%, both being estimated as a percentage of the working age population (MCC, 2008) is evidently based on Manchester city’s high rates of unemployment among the ethnic groups as compared to the autochthonous population. “The unemployment figure as a whole is remarkably high in the Borough of Manchester” (Musterd et al, 1998, p.119). Many migrants are forced to take up low-wage employment such as driving taxis, since they lack qualifications recognized in the U.K. and do not have relevant work experience. “Some of these occupations may be predisposed to poor diet and poor health” (Lindgreen & Hingley, 2009, p.25). Moreover, immigrant women undervalue their housework and prioritize feeding the other family members.

According to the Manchester City Council’s (2005) Report, the number of people with limiting long term illness (LLTI) among the ethnic minority groups was 14.3%, which is considerably lower than that for white ethnic group at 23.2%. Significantly, 13.4% of the White group reported poor health, as compared to only 8.7% of ethnic minority groups as a whole. These findings reveal that although ethnic minority groups endure debilitating poverty due to low wages or unemployment, mentally they have a more positive approach towards their own health.

On the other hand, research has found mental health to be a priority for members of the ethnic minority groups of Manchester, since they have high levels of psychiatric and psychological morbidity (Bhugra & Bahl, 1999). Additionally, Ghafoor (2002, p.4) states that “research on inequalities has shown consistently that people from ethnic minority groups are more likely to die younger and suffer more health problems than the majority of the white population”.

Higher concentrations of poor immigrants is an inherent factor of ethnically diverse towns such as Manchester (Simpson et al, 2007). According to MCC (2008) estimates, the incidence of low birth weight in Manchester is higher at 8.2% as compared to England and Wales at 7.5%. Similar lower health levels are found with respect to average life expectancy in Manchester at 73.8% for men as compared to England’s 77.9%; similarly for women in Manchester, the average life expectancy is 78.9%, as compared to 82.0% in England and Wales. The incidence of breast cancer among women varies, and is a major health problem.

The dietary preferences of immigrant communities in the United Kingdom depends to some extent on the length of time spent in the country which impacts cultural norms and traditions. With the progress of time and due to intermarriage, the small Jewish community adopts a similar diet to non-Jewish white people. This is because of secularization of Jewish attitudes towards Kosher food particularly in the Liberal and Reform branches of Judaism, as against stricter Orthodox Jews. According to cultural tradition, Muslims partake of a large handi or family meal every day, but young, British-born Pakistani muslims may dress and eat in a more English way when out of their homes (Lindgreen & Hingley, 2009).

During the transition period of assimilating into the host country, “traditional dietary good habits are abandoned, while healthy British food has yet to be assimilated” (Lindgreen & Hingley, 2009, p.26). During this time, the spending power in households of ethnic groups in the process of assimilation is lower than average U.K. households’ levels. Though the diet of the ethnic community increasingly becomes similar to that of the general United Kingdome diet, with the passage of time, this integration can be reduced by strong intra-community ties such as those based on religion.

Muslims have mobilized their community members, developing a “Muslim-British civic consciousness and capacity for active citizenship” states Werbner (2000, p.309). A Pakistani women’s association Al Masoom based in Manchester is functioning since 1990. The members view Islam as a religion based on egalitarian principles supporting women’s rights. The women’s promoting the cause of international human rights while mobilising non-Muslims as well as Muslims has enabled their integration into the ethnic community as legitimate workers in their own right. Additionally, it has helped them integrate with British organizations related to human rights, philanthropy, and church, besides representatives from British media and parliament.

Similarly, male activism for ethnic and Islamic causes, even where conflict was involved, has facilitated their integration into British civil politics. An example is the Salman Rushdie affair (Werbner, 2000). This gave rise to discussions on topics such as the role of state-funded religious schools, and the law on blasphemy which prohibited incitement to religious hatred. Therefore, a reinterpretation of Islamic ideas to cater for new situations, was undertaken. Among the responsibilities of the Muslim diaspora, is included the pragmatic and cooperative approach (Jackson, 2003).

Research indicated that young adults of Asian origin considered themselves to have a strong sense of inclusive British identity. Their claim was accepted by white people living in the same areas. At the same time, the self-concept of British identity was not concurrent with conditions of ethnic equality. The study conducted by Condor et al (2006) revealed that immigrants from Pakistan lived in areas of extremely low conditions and poor quality housing. Their educational qualifications were minimal, so that their only option was employment in unskilled occupations at lower than minimum wage paid to the general population of Greater Manchester. The evidence from research indicates that ethnically inclusive constructions of national identity do not guarantee racial equality, freedom from discrimination, or social integration (Condor et al, 2006).

The Jews form a significant part of Manchester since the late 18th century, “when immigrants from eastern and central Europe first arrived” (Jewish, 2008). In contemporary United Kingdom, Jews form the second largest ethnic minority community with around 35,000 people. In the Manchester area, all manner of Jewish life and culture are found, from orthodox to reform.

According to Valins (2003), ultra-Orthodoxy is the fastest increasing aspect of the

British Jewish community, and also of the Jewry worldwide. The author conducted a study using in-depth qualitative interviews, of a community of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Broughton Park, Manchester. The evidence indicates that the Jews construct socio-spatial boundaries and live in residentially concentrated localities. The power of religion is found to be extremely strong for the Jews, in defining their beliefs and everyday practices. Thus, “ultra-Orthodox Jews in Broughton Park adopt a clear philosophy of life that seeks to slow down and stabilize identities and practices” (Valins, 2003, p.171).

Coogan (2002, p.199) states that “one of the remarkable features of the Irish

diaspora is the number of people who voluntarily give of their time to help their community” and make a real difference to the lives of the immigrants. The Heritage Centre operates as a social and cultural centre, as it has a folk museum, and organizes the sale of Irish produce. The author believes that the famous American melting pot concept works no better in Britain than it does in America. Enriching of both the host community as well as the immigrant one takes place through preserving cultural diversity, one’s own ethnicity, while at the same time cooperating with one’s neighbours.

Manchester which was once synonymous with Irish poverty, today is remarkably free from prejudice. The predominantly rural Irish emigrants were hit by a great culture shock. Their efforts to settle down in the host city resulted in Irish clubs and centres tending to keep people out, or permitting only the Irish admission. However, the Irish became more inclusive with time, and their contributions to the great city of Manchester is widely acknowledged (Coogan, 2002).

Conclusion, this paper has highlighted cultural diversity in Manchester as reflected in the city today. From the early nineteenth century, Greater Manchester as the North West’s largest metropolitan area, continues to be the destination for international immigrants.

Racial segregation, clustering of residences of ethnic minorities and later co-existence in some locations with other minority groups, reveal gradual integration of minority communities with the host white community. Manchester is an important city, hence those in authority need to take action to enrich the lives of the immigrants through policy changes. A study of the demography and socio-economic conditions of ethnic minorities has revealed that Manchester’s diverse population are poorer with lower paid jobs and higher rates of unemployment as compared to London and Wales. The high levels of poverty and its effect on health of the immigrant population, and the impact of length of time lived in Manchester on dietary habits of ethnic groups has been examined. The cultural diversity of immigrant Muslims, Asians, Jewish community and the Irish in Manchester today has been discussed. The city is culturally rich with a diverse number of different people, and consequently has the potential to develop further in the future, as an ideal city with optimal integration between the different groups.


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