Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Scotland's Religiosity

The good news is that in the land of Knox, religion isn't what it was. According to the Census 2001 data, 67% of Scots identify with a particular religion - less than anywhere else in the UK. Moreover, identifying yourself with a religion doesn't mean a damn thing in this part of the world, being more often a signifier of communal attachment rather than orthodox religious commitment. The stats don't have the figures but religious devotion should really be measured by how often people attend a religious service and in this the figure in Scotland is less than 10% of the population.

I think it was John Foster, writing in a social history of Scotland, who said that roughly 10% of Scots were either strongly religious or strongly atheist - and the remaining 90% were suspicious of those who felt strongly about it either way.

However, unrelated to religious devotion, the data also contains some worrying economic indicators - particularly pertaining to Muslim Scots. The graph below shows the unemployment rate by religious groups - clearly showing that Muslims are about twice as likely to be unemployed than average.

Moreover, this one below - detailing those who have never worked is even more disturbing.

Given that the top three here - Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus - are much more likely to visibly belong to an ethnic minority, it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the experience of ethnic minorities in the labour market is that of being "the first to be fired and the last to be hired".

The statistics also show the tendency of women from minority religions to participate less in the labour market. This also reinforces poverty: apart from single-parent households, those subsisting on only one wage are the most likely to fall into poverty in the UK.

Finally, this one below shows the rate of self-employment.

This would tend to indicate the phenomenon of "pariah capitalism" first identified in relation to Jews in Europe; finding themselves at the margins of society, they were more inclined to set up small enterprises, rather than attempt to struggle along in the mainstream.

This illustrates the stupidity and circular logic of the racist: if ethnic minorities work side by side with the majority population, they're "stealing our jobs"; if they are unable to find work, they're "sponging off the state"; and if they own businesses - and especially if they're successful...well, we know where that leads.

If this is what is happening here, it doesn't reflect very well on Scottish society. Religion, mercifully, is no longer very important to Scots but the same can't be said, it seems, when it comes to ethnicity.

Note: the graphs have pushed the side-bar down to the bottom, if anyone's looking for it

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