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Measuring ethnicity: challenges and opportunities for survey research

[journal article]

Burton, Jonathan; Nandi, Alita; Platt, Lucinda

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Abstract Measuring ethnic identity in social surveys has traditionally been problematic, often using a single question and allowing the respondent to choose one category from a pre-defined list. In this paper we discuss the rationale for and limitations of measuring a complex and multi-dimensional concept with a simple, uni-dimensional question. We propose that operationalising ethnicity as multi-dimensional requires multiple questions to capture the complexity of the concept. Giving researchers a number of different measures enables them to focus on the dimensions of interest to them, and has the potential to open up the rich resources of theoretically-robust survey research to researchers from a range of disciplines concerned with questions of ethnic identification.
Classification Methods and Techniques of Data Collection and Data Analysis, Statistical Methods, Computer Methods; Migration, Sociology of Migration
Free Keywords Ethnic identity; ethnicity; ethnic groups; survey data; census; categories
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 1332-1349
Journal Ethnic and Racial Studies, 33 (2010) 8
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)