Asian-British inter-ethnic relationships as reviewed in the movie “Bend it like Beckham”

Scientific Essay 2007 11 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Other


Asian-British inter-ethnic relationships as reviewed in the movie “Bend it like Beckham”


The United Kingdom has one of the fastest growing mixed-raced populations worldwide. Despite the recent racially motivated violence mainly in northern towns, different ethnic communities are beginning to embrace with British culture. Inter-ethnic relationships like those in which Michael Caine, newsreader Trevor McDonald, singer Sade and writer Salman Rushdie are living in are becoming accepted and promoted by officials and the public. This work will try on the one hand to review the situation of people with Asian (especially Indian and Bangladeshi) migrant background and on the other hand, the problems that are focussed in the movie “Bend it like Beckham”.

British Asian: Statistics

Data from the 2001 census confirmed that Britain has one of the highest rates of inter-ethnic relationships and mixed race people worldwide. According to the 2001 UK Census, there are 2.33 million British Asians, making up 4% of the population of the United Kingdom.[1] This further subdivides to 1.05 million of Indian origin (1.8% of the population), 747,000 of Pakistani origin (1.3%), 283,000 of Bangladeshi origin (0.5%), and 247,000 from other Asian origins (0.4%). British Asians make up 50.2% of the UK's non-European population. British Indians tend to be religiously diverse, with 45% Hindu, 29% Sikh, and 13% per cent Muslim, while their counterparts of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are much more religiously homogeneous, with Muslims accounting for 92% of each group.[2] 2004 estimates show that the British Asian community is 2,799,700 including people of mixed White British and Asian descent. The unemployment rate of Indians in the UK is about 7%, comparable to that of the White British. On the other hand, Bangladeshis have among the highest unemployment rates of 13-14% with Pakistani having around 11%.[3] Indian pupils are likely to achieve the highest grades in schools where as Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are likely to score lower.[4] Persons of Indian or mixed Indian origin are more likely than White British to have college degrees, whereas Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are less likely.[5] By 1997, inter-racial relationships were flourishing with a fifth of Asian men and 10% of Asian women opting for a white partner. In spite of those findings, research carried out for BBC News Online revealed only a third of Britons think people in the UK are very tolerant of mixed race relationships. Professor Richard Berthoud of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University was one of the authors of the PSI report. He stated that:

‘Part of the huge interest is based on the assumption that it wouldn’t happen - there’s an implicit assumption in British society that you marry somebody of the same colour as oneself. […] But there are many people with black faces who just think of themselves as English and see no reason why they should not form a partnership with a white person.’[6]

Writer Ms Alibhai-Brown sees mainly feminist motives for Asian women to marry a white partner: "Rightly or wrongly quite a lot of us believe that in order to fulfil our lives it just won’t be possible if we marry an Asian man who however egalitarian before marriage very often becomes extremely sexist afterwards."[7] The Office for National Statistics in 2001 revealed the number of mixed race people grew by more than 75% during the 1990s to around 415,000, 10% of the total ethnic minority population in the UK. Professor Richard Berthoud of Essex University believes such growth was leading to the blurring of racial identities. A survey initiated by BBC News Online on race relations in the UK revealed that one in three of black respondents and 30% of Asian respondents said they have been made to feel like a criminal by the police because of the colour of their skin. The findings indicate that 37% believe police officers discriminate on grounds of race compared to 45% who reject this suggestion. More than half of black respondents and 47% of Asians believe there is evidence of discrimination. Thirty-four percent of whites said the same. The poll suggested that the Asian community has more confidence in the police, with 47% of those asked saying they believe police treatment of people from ethnic minorities is fair.[8] Gurbux Singh, Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality in Britain holds material poverty, the material inequality that people face, poor housing, poor education, lack of job opportunities for the predominant obstacles for integration, especially in the north of Britain.[9]


[1] http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=273

[2] http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=460

[3] http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=462

[4] http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_compendia/foe2004/Ethnicity.pdf

[5] ibid

[6] http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk/2002/race/changing_face_of_britain.stm

[7] ibid

[8] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2000063.stm

[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk/2002/race/1994518.stm



Title: Asian-British inter-ethnic relationships as reviewed in the movie “Bend it like Beckham”