Political Economy Of Work

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Political Economy of Work

Political Economy of Work


Significant changes in the demography of Great Britain have taken place in the last 50 years. Postwar labour shortages too severe to be met solely through the use of migrants from other European countries that led Britain to look to its colonies and former colonies for new workers, providing them with British citizenship (Commission for Racial Equality 2005)and inviting them to take up jobs within the UK labour market. This paper critically reviews the evidence for the persistence of racial inequality in the UK Labour Market.


Workers, largely from the Caribbean and South Asia, took up the invitation and injected significant ethnic diversity into the British labour market. Subsequent migration and settlement patterns mean that minority ethnic people now make up 8% of the UK population (Commission for Racial Equality 2005) and are more likely to reside in major cities (e.g. London, Birmingham). UK Government projections show that, because of their younger age profile, minority ethnic people will account for 50% of the growth in the UK working population between 1999 and 2009 (Commission for Racial Equality 2005).  In Europe as well as in other parts of the world, xenophobia and racism are amongst the unsolved problems of the late twentieth century. Whilst a solid majority of the political elite of Europe is strictly determined to fight against this phenomenon, political and economic problems and trends like globalisation, mass migration and unemployment provoke profound feelings of insecurity reinforcing latent and manifest xenophobic attitudes among European citizens.

BBC (19 September 2007) states that the divisions between Britain's ethnic groups are deeper than ever - and are fuelling religious and political extremism, a report has claimed. The Commission for Racial Equality report also said that 15 government departments are not meeting their own obligations on tackling discrimination. Racial inequality was "alive and kicking" and to achieve an integrated Britain there needed to be "equality for all sections of society, interaction between all sections of society and participation by all sections of society”.

The issue

The proportion of ethnic minorities in the population of Great Britain has risen from under 1% in 1950 to 7.1% in 2000. Ethnic minority and mixed origin groups are projected to account for more than half of the growth in the working age population over the next ten years. But It is extremely well documented that in broad terms, ethnic minority groups in Britain such as Black Caribbeans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, are disadvantaged in the labour market.3 Evidence illustrates that they haveinferior chances of reaching professional and managerial jobs, and that they are more likely than their White counterparts to experience unemployment(Faulkner 2004 pp.45-65); Yet there is also an increasing trend towards diversity of experience both within and between ethnic minority groups. Some people, notably within Indian and Chinese groups, are doing very well by most criteria (although evidence suggests that they still face barriers in reaching the upper echelons of organisations and tend to be concentrated in certain sectors); There are also clear gender differences in educational and labour market outcomes within ethnic minority ...
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