The maintenance of white privilege: The case of white South African migrants in the UK

Type Journal Article - Ethnicities
Title The maintenance of white privilege: The case of white South African migrants in the UK
Volume 0
Issue 0
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
Page numbers 1-22
White South Africans constitute a privileged migrant group compared to many other, and particularly ‘non-white’, migrants in the UK. Little research has been conducted on this particular group, however. Through an interview study, this gap in research will be addressed. Based on 30 qualitative and semi-structured interviews, the paper argues that some white South Africans in the UK emphasise aspects of their group status deemed to be ‘desirable’ by the white host society population – and thereby maintain the white privileges with which they have historically been bestowed – in order to offset any negative connotations associated with their status as a migrant group. The privileges accrued by their whiteness that white South Africans are shown to be maintaining include the relevance of British ancestral ties privileging certain white South Africans, the relevance of their socio-cultural background stemming from the colonial ties between Britain and South Africa, the significance attached to English language proficiency as well as their socio-economic status in the global transnational employment market. In the process, it will be shown how some white South Africans construct themselves in a manner that works to distinguish them from more stigmatised groups. It is shown how participants buy in to anti-immigration rhetoric – as commonly associated with the host country’s immigration and citizenship policy environment – in order that this can continue to be directed at more stigmatised groups rather than themselves. This, then, references markers of difference such as ancestry, culture and language, essentially enabling the stigmatisation even of other white migrants, such as Eastern Europeans who are predominantly white but perceived to be lower down in the ‘social hierarchy’ of the host society than white South Africans.

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