Choosing an ethnicity for my two-year-old
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.
- 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.