Monday, October 11, 2010

Fairness ?


The Today programme discussed the Equality and Human Rights Commission's report How fair is Britain ? Humphries asked Trevor Philips what fairness means and Philips demonstrated the vagueness of the idea. Such discussion often ignores two issues.

Firstly, outcomes are often measured in monetary terms which take no account of personal life choices. Some people seek other things than wealth.

Secondly, discussion of ethnic issues is often taboo. Interesting that there is no gap in educational achievement between rich and poor Chinese children but a 20% gap for Indian children. I can't find the figures for white or Caribbean British children (forgive me if these are not the currently politically correct terms). Some people have attempted to identify racial differences in intelligence relying on notoriously vague and unscientific definitions of both race and intelligence. However, it would be equally prejudicial to deny cultural differences between groups which, for example, have enormous impact on children's performance at school.

2 comments:

Hoonaloon Books said...

I think that differences within groups shouldn`t be under-estimated. I live in a former mining town on the Notts/Derbys border. The population here is over-whelmingly white English, quite an old-fashioned in many ways, with families often having been in this area for generations, and often with close relatives living within a couple of streets.

It couldn`t be more traditionally English in that respect, but one of the biggest problems facing schools in the area is that off pupils starting school with below normal communicatiions skills, largely because parents are lacking in those skills. It is important to look at the questions of race and culture, but it may not alays produce the results you expect.

David said...

I agree. One needs to be very careful in dividing society into groups to be compared. For example, a simple category of "white" would conceal many differences, not least between English, Welsh and Scots.