Campbell, Catherine and McLean, Carl
Representations of ethnicity in people's accounts of local community participation : the context of health inequalities in England.
Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 12
This paper is located within the context of the current policy emphasis on the participation of socially excluded groups in "partnerships" with the government in initiatives to reduce health inequalities. We examine the impact of ethnic identity on the likelihood of such participation through semi-structured interviews with 75 residents of a deprived multi-ethnic area in south England. Informants described themselves as African-Caribbean, Pakistani and white English; half men and half women, aged 15-75. We draw attention to the way in which ethnic identities may be constructed in ways that undermine the likelihood of local community participation. We do this through an examination of the way in which stereotypical representations of ethnically defined in-groups and out-groups (the ethnic 'Other') constituted key symbolic resources used by our informants in accounting for their low levels of engagement with local community networks. We examine the content of these stereotypes, and highlight how their construction is shaped by historical, economic and social forces, within the 'institutional racism' that exists in England. Much scope exists for social psychological research into the interface between abstract policy prescriptions drawing on epidemiological research, and their implementation in the complex local contexts characteristic of multi-cultural Britain.
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