Academic Director, YouGov

There are clear concerns over the cultural challenge of Muslim integration, but beyond the scare-scenarios, many Britons see a softening of this challenge with the integrating effect of longer settlement.

Terrorism is shaped by the same societies it rejects. A signature theme of modern times, for instance, is the expanded power of individuals – to disperse and galvanise power, and to self-publicise to audiences that dwarf sporting arenas. These dynamics increasingly extend to violent extremism, it seems, as the omnipresent camera phone is helping to emancipate would-be extremists and ‘lone wolves’ from a reliance on larger-scale attacks and infrastructure.

Audience and shock factor are basic components of terrorism, and according to recent events in Woolwich, the up-close and amplifying power of the smartphone can do as much as explosives to steal the news cycle with images of bloodied hands and household knives. It has also transformed the rest of us into film-crews on permanent stand-by as extremism’s most reliable publicist. Hence in the short time it took for armed police to respond, one of the assailants could fit in a scene-side interview, including a Q&A.

The integration debate had already been intensified by five years of squeezed living standards and a reaction in various quarters against the globalising tide of foreign people, products and cultures washing over national borders.

But the aftermath of events in Woolwich clearly introduced new levels of militancy and anxiety to the issue.

To support on-going research with Cambridge University on the politics of human rights and integration, YouGov recently conducted a study comparing attitudes towards different backgrounds and generations of diaspora in Britain.

First we asked different samples and sub-samples of respondents how well, if at all, they thought several groups were integrating into British society. These included three broad categories of: [1] ‘migrants from Eastern Europe’, [2] ‘migrants from African countries’ and [3] ‘migrants from Muslim countries’, plus one specific diaspora of ‘migrants from Pakistan’.

Results in Table 1 show a broadly negative attitude towards the progress of integration across all groups, with an integration hierarchy in which Muslim migrants are clearly viewed as the least well integrated.

(NB: ‘total well’ in this case equals the percentage of those saying ‘fairly’ plus ‘very’ well; and ‘total not well’ equals the percentage saying ‘not very’ plus ‘not at all’ well)

  • 46% of respondents describe migrants from African countries as integrating either ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ well, versus 31% saying they are integrating either ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ well, giving this group a net integration score of -15 (equals ‘total well’  minus ‘total not well’).
  • Next in the table are migrants from Eastern Europe, with 54% describing them as integrating ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ well, versus 34% saying ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ well, with a net integration score of -20.
  • Migrants from Pakistan are seen as integrating marginally less well with 57% saying ‘total not well’ versus 28% saying ‘total well’ and a net integration score of -29.
  • Finally, 71% of respondents describe migrants from Muslim countries as integrating ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ well, versus 34% saying fairly’ or ‘very’ well, producing a notably lower net integration score of -50.

Table 1: Generally speaking, how well, if at all, do you think that migrants from [African countries/ Eastern Europe/ Pakistan/ Muslim countries] are integrating into British society?

Total
Well %

Total
Not Well %

Don't know
%

Net

Migrants from African countries (n=1809)

31

46

23

-15

Migrants from Eastern Europe (n=675)

34

54

12

-20

Migrants from Pakistan (n=601)

28

57

15

-29

Migrants from Muslim countries (n=673)

21

71

9

-50

 

Fieldwork for Survey 1 was conducted online between 7-8 May, 2013, with a total sample of 1931 British Adults. The overall sample was split into three sub-samples of n=675, n=673and n=601. Fieldwork for Survey 2 was conducted online between 16-17 May, 2013, with a total sample of 1809 British Adults.

This is not to say, however, that the direction of British opinion in this study remains broadly negative.

A second question was asked about how well the children of these migrant groups are integrating.

Results in Table 2 show a kind of ‘off-spring effect’ across all groups, where the next generation is viewed as doing substantially better at integrating into British society than its parents.

Table 2: Generally speaking, how well, if at all, do you think that [migrants/ the children of migrant] from [Pakistan/ Eastern Europe/ Muslim countries/ African countries] are integrating into British society?

Total
Well %

Total
Not Well %

Don't know
%

Net

Migrants from Pakistan (n=601)

28

57

15

-29

Children of migrants from Pakistan (n=601)

46

40

15

6

Migrants from Eastern Europe (n=675)

34

54

12

-20

Children of migrants  from Eastern Europe (n=675)

42

32

26

10

Migrants from Muslim countries (n=673)

21

71

9

-50

Children of migrants  from Muslim countries (n=673)

38

53

9

-15

Migrants from African countries (n=1809)

31

46

23

-15

Children of migrants  from African countries (n=1809)

43

33

24

10

Fieldwork for Survey 1 was conducted online between 7-8 May, 2013, with a total sample of 1931 British Adults. The overall sample was split into three sub-samples of n=675, n=673and n=601. Fieldwork for Survey 2 was conducted online between 16-17 May, 2013, with a total sample of 1809 British Adults.

  • Net integration scores for African and Eastern European groups shift from -15 and -20 to +10 in both cases, showing a positive movement of 25 and 30 points respectively.
  • The proportion of respondents describing these two next-generation groups as integrating ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ well becomes a plurality in each case – 43% ‘total well’ versus 33% ‘total not well’ for the children of African migrants and 42% ‘total well’ versus 32% ‘total not well’ for the children of Eastern Europeans.

There’s also a larger positive shift in net integration scores for the children of migrants from both Pakistan and Muslim countries more generally – 35 points in both cases.

  • Pakistani children now receive the highest positive score of all groups, as the proportion of respondents describing them as integrating ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ well becomes a plurality– with 46% saying ‘total well’ versus 40% saying ‘total not well’.
  • The children of migrants from Muslim countries more broadly are still seen by a majority as not integrating well, but this number falls from 71% ‘total not well’ for their parent’s generation to 53%.

Naturally there are clear differences among supporters of the big three parties and UKIP.

  • UKIP supporters resist a change in overall direction of attitude towards the integration of children from any group. Only UKIP voters see no improvement in integration between Muslim generations.
  • Conservative supporters fall nearly into line with the overall total in attitudes to the children of migrants from an African background (41% ‘total well’ versus 38% ‘total not well’), but are divided over the integration of children from Eastern European migrants (41% ‘total well’ versus 43% ‘total not well’) and retain a majority saying the children of migrants from Pakistan and Muslim countries more generally are not integrating well. (respectively for Pakistan: 53% ‘total not well’ versus 38% ‘total well’; for Muslim countries: 53% ‘total not well’ versus 39% ‘total well’).
  • A majority or plurality of Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) say that all groups are integrating fairly or very well, except for initial migrants from Muslim countries (53% ‘total not well’ versus 37% ‘total well’) and from Pakistan or African countries, where Lib Dems are roughly divided in each case.
  • A plurality or majority of Labour supporters shift towards saying the children of all groups are integrating ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ well, but remain divided over the children of migrants from Muslim countries.

From this research, there's little doubting significant levels of public concern towards the perceived, cultural challenge of Muslim integration into British society, and more noticeably compared with other diasporas.

But a broad section of the public also clearly sees a positive integrating effect from longer settlement, which reflects a widely held belief that this challenge is softening from one generation to the next.

This is evident not only in the distinction between attitudes to migrants and their children, but also in distinctions between Muslim migrants in general and more positive views on continued integration for the Pakistani diaspora, which has an established, historic presence in Britain.

See the full survey results

Follow @YouGovCam for updates on our on-going academic research

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