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Choosing an ethnicity for my two-year-old

June 22, 2016

2014-09-18Would you believe it BabyRuthless is now two years old, and it turns out that when a child is two that is the time to register them for Council Nursery.

So I did!

I sat up at the Nursery filling in the form on my lap, and as I went through it my market researcher alarm kicked in.

The form asked me to select my son’s ethnicity.  Fair enough, of course it did.  I have written extensively on the subject of ethnicity questions and why they are so long and complicated.

But this wasn’t a straightforward question.  There were two options that could apply, and it was clearly stated that I should select one only.

Paralysed with indecision, I was.

Is he ‘white British’ or ‘white Scottish’?

It is a big question.

  • He was born in Scotland, so he is Scottish.
  • His Dad was born in Scotland.
  • We live in Scotland.
  • But Scotland is in Britain – he was born and lives in Britain.
  • And his Mum is English (no ‘white English’ box to tick) so the closest for her is British.
  • Plus his Mum and Dad both have British passports.
  • He doesn’t have a passport.
  • And I’m a notorious over-thinker with a Sociology degree including modules in politics and nationalism.
  • Aaaaaargh!
  • Don’t even get me started on the referendums on Scotland or Europe.

Actually it isn’t just a  big question.  In Scotland it is a loaded question.  Whether you define as ‘Scottish’ or ‘British’ says something about you.

And I had to make a decision!  On his behalf!  At the age of two!

As I say in my other post on ethnicity, “The main reason that you see such long lists is to allow you, the respondent, to self-define your ethnicity.”  So there’s the learning point – when writing a questionnaire it is not appropriate for the respondent to have to make decisions / impose values when answering questions about someone else.  Keep it factual, people.

I forget what I put, it doesn’t really matter.

I hope.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Victoria permalink
    June 22, 2016 5:49 pm

    This is weird; he is by nature British, but Scottish British, sounds like British Pakistani or British Muslim, like the two are incompatible.

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