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Journal Article

'Mixed Race' Children in British Society: Some Theoretical Considerations

Anne Wilson
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 35, No. 1 (Mar., 1984), pp. 42-61
DOI: 10.2307/590550
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/590550
Page Count: 20
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'Mixed Race' Children in British Society: Some Theoretical Considerations
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Abstract

A study of the racial identity of British 'mixed race' children raises a number of theoretical issues about the racial categorization system of Britain; in particular, the validity of the assumption that British racial thought is strictly dichotomous (perceived in terms of the two mutually exclusive categories of 'black' and 'white') is called into question. In British and American sociological literature, mixed race people have often been described as occupying a 'marginal' or an 'in-between' position, from which they can only escape by adopting full membership of either the black or the white group. None the less, some sociologists have suggested that it is possible for mixed race people to steer a successful course between the two groups or to alter their racial self-image according to circumstance: more generally, it has been argued that the process of ethnic identity is more fluid and dynamic than it is frequently depicted. The dichotomous 'black-or-white' model of racial identity stems from analysis of the American racial structure: the investigation of British racial identity would appear to require a more flexible view of the racial categorization system.

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