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What happens when mixed race couples have children of their own?

University of Kent

What happens when mixed race couples have children of their own?

A new study by a sociologist at the University of Kent (UK) reveals how mixed-race British parents draw from their ethnic and racial backgrounds in identifying and raising their children.

While mixed race people have been studied both in North America and Europe, no studies have looked specifically at what happens when mixed race people become parents.

In her new book, entitled Multiracial Parents: Mixed Families, Generational Change and the Future of Race (NYU Press, November 2017), Professor Miri Song, of the University's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, draws on detailed narratives to present a revealing portrait of how multiracial identity is - and is not - transmitted to children.

Professor Song's research found that many multiracial parents feel that their very existence - and the families they and their children constitute - are becoming increasingly normalised and are central to challenging existing racial boundaries and the historical meanings of race.

But Professor Song explains in the book that the decisions made by multiracial parents are not only varied, but often tinged with uncertainty and ambivalence. Will ethnic and racial ancestries and identifications be passed on to their children, and how may this process vary for Black/White, South Asian/White, and East Asian multiracial people?

Furthermore, she points to the fact that two people with the exact same multiracial backgrounds (for instance Black and White), and with partners of the same racial backgrounds (White), can still identify and raise their children in quite different ways. This is because many factors, such as the physical appearance of children, the parents' own upbringing, and regional location, influence this process.

As an example, Professor Song shows that it is fully possible that couple A, who live in a mostly White suburb, may tell their child that they are White, while couple B, who live in an area with many more Black people, may decide that their child should identify as, and be seen as, multiracial. Moreover, the importance of race, and concerns about racism, can vary significantly across the multiracial population.


For more information or interview requests contact Martin Herrema at the University of Kent Press Office.

Tel: 01227 823581/01634 888879


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Established in 1965, the University of Kent - the UK's European university - now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.

It has been ranked 22nd in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and 25th in the Complete University Guide 2018, and in June 2017 was awarded a gold rating, the highest, in the UK Government's Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, it is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.

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In the National Student Survey 2016, Kent achieved the fourth highest score for overall student satisfaction, out of all publicly funded, multi-faculty universities. Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium (

The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.

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