The Social Position of White and “Half-Caste” Women in Colored Groupings in Britain

The Social Position of White and “Half-Caste” Women in Colored Groupings in Britain

American Sociological Review
Volume 16, Number 6 (December 1951)
pages 796-802

Sydney F. Collins
University of Edinburgh

Sociological studies of colored minority groups in Britain have so far been undertaken only on a limited scale. But the ever-widening interest being shown in the social problems to which they give rise is indicative of the need for more research in this field. Little’s study of Negroes in Cardiff is perhaps the most comprehensive and best known published work on British colored minorities. A few minor studies by others are also confined mainly to Negro groups. The Moslem section remains still to be explored.

Colored groups have settled in a number of British ports and vary in the size of their population from a few thousand, as in Cardiff and Liverpool, to less than two hundred, as in Hull and North Shields. The circumstances determining their origin and development are similar in all cases. They were settled by colored seamen, most of whom married English women, and large increases in their population were stimulated by two world wars. Racial tension has sometimes arisen as a result of social pressure from a larger community, but in some instances the colored immigrants, in retaining those cultural elements which are alien to English society, have of themselves created social barriers. Colored persons of the Moslem religion are typical examples.

Two primary factors, race and religion, are basic to the two types of colored groupings often found as separate entities in the same locality. This paper is based on a sociological study, made recently in Tyneside, of two colored groups which for convenience will be called Moslem and Negro though the terms are not exclusive. For instance, a small proportion of the Moslems have certain negroid features. For a conclusive statement on the social position of women in colored groups, comparative
studies of a larger number of colored communities in Britain would be necessary. However, the assessment of their social position in these two groups may be taken with few modifications as applicable to colored groups in general in this country. The social position of white and half-caste women in these groups will be assessed in terms of their rights and obligations relative to other members of the group. Their position will be considered in two dimensions: firstly, from the point of view of their status relative to that of men; and secondly, with respect to the status and esteem scale of the total group.

The two groupings here concerned have both settled in the Tyneside region. The Moslem community is composed of a population of about 1,000 persons, concentrated near the dock area. It has a core of settlement of some sixty families living in modern semi-detached houses of two or three bedrooms to each family, constructed by the Municipal Authorities to house Moslems. The rest of the colored population reside in an area approximate to this core, occupying…

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