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How has 20th Century Migration shaped 21st Century British Society?

Speaking of the domestic political pressures, David A. Coleman, discusses within U.K Statistics on Immigration the origins and limitations of net migration. (Coleman, 1987)  Since the mid-twentieth century Coleman suggests that focus has been placed upon immigration from the New Commonwealth and the formation of ethnic minority communities. (Coleman, 1987, p.1138) Whilst looking at the adequacy of statistics with regard to migration patterns in the twentieth century, and the attempts made to control them, it has been suggested that 'statistics have not helped the rational discussion of migration,' and furthermore, that the current system in the twenty-first century is a development and extension of the system which was in place in the twentieth-century. (Coleman, 1987, p.1138) The effects of this continuing system upon migration to and from the UK in the twenty first century can be seen more clearly when looking at Figure 1. (

Looking at the International migration figures to and from the United Kingdom, between 1996 and 2005, it is evident that the outward flow of migration is considerably less than that of the in-migration statistics. In 2005, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimated that 185, 000 more people entered than left the U.K for a year or more. Consequentially it was calculated that on average, this would add around 500 extra people a day to the UK population. (Office of National Statistics, 2006)

Cultural collective memory, shared collective thoughts and 'the other' are themes that become common components to the idea of national identity. (Castle and Davidson, 2000) Adapting these notions of migration to cultural ideas of 'the alien' and the 'other' the 'commonality of seeking common procedures of government to guarantee [their] rights to a private space' become centrally important to many people (Castle and Davidson, 2000, p.45) This 'common civic commitment' is suggested to be 'something so valuable that it was deservedly defended against outside threats.' (Castle and Davidson, 2000, p.45.) With regard to migration and immigration boundaries between "us" and the "other" in cultural terms becomes a key part of migration and the social and cultural expectations of the people both adopting a new way of life in a new country and the people accepting the immigrants into their country. If others shared or accepted our public values, they are not deemed as the other for 'what were strictly citizenship matters.' (Castle and Davidson, 2000, p.45)  Notions of a shared public life and shared cultural ideas become important when re-examining the data from the 1996 to 2005 statistics on immigration to and from Britain. The additional people that Britain welcomes daily would mean the need for the adoption and encompassing of other cultures and traditions. The range of skills, aspirations and the inevitable language barriers between the immigrant and the native, all form part of the diverse changes, which one can expect when considering the way in which societal structures change when faced with migration. (Ideas found in Bloch, 2002) Participation in education and employment has proved to be of vital importance within data analysis of migration to and from the United Kingdom.

As can be seen from the statistics, the influx of immigrants to the United Kingdom since the beginning of the twentieth century has exceeded the outward migration by British citizens. The population of Britain and the society which is constantly being moulded and shaped by the addition of migrants from culturally diverse backgrounds, therefore, manifests and creates the Britain which one can see in the twenty-first century. It is ethnically and culturally diverse, and has provided opportunities for other nations to further and better their lifestyles. This, however, has been shown to come at the price for British citizens in the workplace. Jamaican migration to the UK rose to a high in 1961 before the commonwealth immigration Act was introduced in 1962. August 1965, the UK Government announced new measures to control the flow of immigration into Britain. Before these restrictions were in place, large numbers of semi-skilled and unskilled workers migrated to Britain. (International Migration Review, 1966.) This stands as an example of an increase in unskilled people to an already rising and expanding UK population. Data sources on migration will inevitably not be wholly an accurate source for analysis of inward and outward migration to and from Britain, however, will provide the basis for analysing British cultural changes and social concerns. Migration analysis in the twentieth century goes some way to aiding the understanding of changes which are seen to occur in the twenty-first century. (See J. J. Mangalam; Harry K. Schwarzweller, Autumn, 1968, for further ideas.) Having touched on the issue of employment, I feel there are many more areas for further research when considering migration which will aid further the understanding of the effects of migration on society within Britain.

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