Kerryn Husk



This thesis provides a critical understanding of the size and relative position of the Cornish in Cornwall, a county in the south-west of the UK. Cornwall is a region which has experienced increased levels of disadvantage for a prolonged period of time. The indigenous people, whilst seeing a rise in their inclusion in ethnicity variables in the region, have remained under-researched in terms of their socio-economic position relative to the non-Cornish in the same geographic area. This thesis addresses this gap in the literature and represents the first in-depth examination of the group. The 2001 Census included an option to ‘write-in’ a Cornish ethnic identity, however whilst accurate in the responses it recorded the result was almost certainly an under-enumeration due to the lack of a dedicated tick-box selection. This thesis is a rigorous examination of the Cornish, starting with these data, estimating their size and socio-economic position (in terms of social exclusion) relative to non-Cornish individuals. Three stages of primary analysis sought to; analyse, adjust and extend the 2001 Census result to broadly estimate the size, links with exclusion and the causal processes behind these links. Firstly, an accurate picture of the size of the Cornish population was estimated using an innovative weighting strategy, developed to collate all other data referring to the Cornish and to derive weights for application to the raw Census data. Secondly, a stage of primary survey research examined this group more directly for links with social exclusion factors; and thirdly, a stage of qualitative interviews with knowledgeable individuals in the region lent depth to the findings and provided a more coherent explanatory framework. The results indicate that the Cornish are certainly more numerous than the 2001 Census had indicated. The proportion of individuals self-identifying as Cornish is likely to be closer to a quarter of the population rather than the 6.7% indicated in the 2001 ii data. There was some discrepancy in the data between the belief amongst the group of social exclusion and the reality. In order to explain the discrepancy, a model was used which explores the difference between personal-level experience and group level discrimination (Taylor et al 1990). The results of this thesis highlight the complex and multi-dimensional processes inherent in, firstly, the methodological and practical process of ethnicity measurement and, secondly, its use as an explanatory variable for social exclusion experience. Overall, this thesis represents the first and most comprehensive examination of the indigenous people of Cornwall and their relative lived experience compared to non-Cornish in the same area.

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