The Social and Economic Position of Muslim People in England: Inequality or Segregation?

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The social position of different religious groups in Britain has been the subject of much discussion. There are concerns regarding the ability of different religiously or ethnically defined groups to live alongside one another, with debates particularly focussing on Muslim people and whether or not they can and are willing to be integrated into European society. In particular is the suggestion of a lack of support for ‘the core European values of freedom, tolerance, democracy, sexual equality and secularism’ and a perceived cultural separatism (Modood 2003:101). But there are also concerns that some minority groups, particularly Muslims, experience severe socioeconomic disadvantage compared with others in England (Peach 2006). And that this, combined with the sense of isolation resulting from religious victimisation and responses to the British involvement in the ‘war on terror’, will produce problems for the development of a ‘British’ identity and an integrated lifestyle.

This talk will explore how religion, religiosity and ethnicity relate to the experiences and attitudes of people living in England. The socioeconomic position and attitudes of British Muslims will be examined through an investigation of differences across different Muslim groups (specifically those reporting Black African, Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani heritage), how their circumstances and attitudes vary from those of other ethnic and religious groups in England, and how they compare with Muslim groups elsewhere in Europe. Exploration of the attitudes and experiences of Muslim people in different geographical, socioeconomic and ethnic contexts will reveal important insight into the influence of religious identity on their lives and how far this is influenced by socioeconomic inequality and reflects distance from a British identity.


Dialogue Society North hosted Prof James Nazroo of Manchester who gave a seminar on the social and economic position of Muslim people living in the UK. Prof Nazroo shared with seminar participants the results of interviews and polls that compare various groups based on ethnicity and religion in England. After the presentation of quantitative data participants had a chance to ask questions to Prof Nazroo concerning issues of identity, racism and about comparative results with Spain and Germany. One of the noteworthy results of the qualitative data received from the surveys revealed that young people in the Muslim minority groups more readily identify themselves with a British identity contrary to popular perception.