to often the popular understanding is that a 'minority group'
refers to a groups size in respect of numbers. Indeed, looking at the
categories suggested in the previous page, ethnic minorities make up
about 6% of the total population of the UK.
However, the term indicates that minorities are those groups in subordinate
positions irrespective of their relative size. There are, however,
difficulties with this option. There is a danger, particularly within
formally democratic political systems, that the term 'minority' may
embody the implication that the designated group is numerically, and
hence politically and morally, less significant than the 'majority'.
Moreover, this terminology is confusing and, to some, offensive since
it involves, for example, using the term minority to refer to women
- a majority of the population in Britain - and to black people in
South Africa - an overwhelming numerical majority.
In Britain the term 'minority' is rarely used on its own but is usually
qualified with the word 'ethnic'. This term is widely understood in
Britain to denote a category of people whose recent origins lie in
the countries of the New Commonwealth and Pakistan; in other words,
in former British colonies in the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean,
Africa, and, sometimes the so called Far East. Two points seem to be
first is that, despite the implicit reference to cultural difference
entailed in the term 'ethnic', not every group having
a distinctive culture and constituting a minority in the British
population is normally included. Thus, the large communities of people
Ukrainian, and Italian origin to be found in many British cities
rarely thought of as constituting ethnic minorities.
second point, which follows from the first is that, in fact the
criterion which distinguishes those to whom the term normally
refers is skin colour.
would you define the term 'ethnic minority'?
How do you think the term ethnic minority is used in Britain
today (think about national documents and governmental
reports - which groups of people do they use it to refer