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Identities in Transition: Understanding ethnicity and its intersection with gender, religious affiliation and socio-economic position in comparative perspective

Final Report Summary - TRANSID (Identities in Transition: Understanding ethnicity and its intersection with gender, religious affiliation and socio-economic position in comparative perspective)

The aim of the TRANSID project was for the researcher (Dr Lucinda Platt, University of Essex) to develop a series of studies of ethnic identity and its intersection with gender, religion and socio-economic position. A second element of the project was for the researcher to develop increased analytical skills in quantitative analysis and appropriate techniques for investigating the issues at hand. The third element was that, by working with the Scientist in Charge of the TRANSID project, the researcher would develop a greater awareness of theoretical sociological perspectives on gender and develop a strand of gendered analysis. These activities and achievements were designed to take place over a period of 12 months, based in the Institute of Economic Analysis (IAE-CSIC) in Barcelona.

To achieve the research aims of the project, the researcher engaged in an intensive period of literature review and a corresponding review of data sources from a range of countries, such as Dutch migration survey data, the European Social Survey, and labour force surveys from France and Spain as well as the United Kingdom. She developed a greater understanding of methodological issues in survey research, through attendance at a regular survey research seminar series held at Pompeu Fabra. She attended and participated in a number of specialised workshops and conferences throughout Europe (see also dissemination). These laid the ground for a number of research papers undertaken independently or in collaboration, that she completed or developed to an advanced stage during the project (see publications).

Supported by the IAE research environment, the researcher developed her understanding of sophisticated analytical methods and her ability to apply them in her own research. She also increased her skills in manipulating Stata for data management, the production of graphics and providing estimates of results from complex statistical models in accessible forms.

The project has fostered a number of ongoing collaborations which will enable the programme of work to be continued and enhanced over time. These include: joining a child migration project led by Mart Tienda from Princeton, in which participation is ongoing; taking part in a range of workshops relating to the development of a study of Turks in Europe; involvement with colleagues from a number of European countries in the development of a project on New Migrants.

The project resulted in research that contributed a number of key insights into issues of ethnic inequalities, ethnic and religious identification, as well as gendered social processes.

Many of these are of interest both to policy and civil society. Key findings were:
- The extent of economic inequality within groups of ethnic minority women. This has implications for gendered patterns of welfare the limits on conceiving ethnic identities as representing coherent groups.
- The fact that majority identification is compatible with greater religiosity among Muslim minorities in the United Kingdom but not in the Netherlands. This speaks to debates on Muslims as outsiders.
- The conceptualisation and operationalisation of agency in relation to children's gendered occupational choices. This speaks to debates on socialisation the maintenance of occupational segregation, often regarded as central to gender inequality.
- The ways in which ethnicity and income reinforce each other in the composition of social networks among minorities; but that minorities are far more open to contact with the majority population than vice versa. Such insights modify the thrust of challenges to the multicultural model.
- A demonstration that inequality among minority groups is best understood at the intersection of ethnicity and religious affiliation. This highlights the limitations of accounts of the world based either on an overarching concept of racism or on an opposition of Muslims and 'the rest'.