Portrait of Professor Miri Song

Professor Miri Song

Professor of Sociology
Director of Research, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research


Professor Song joined the University of Kent, after completing her PhD at the London School of Economics (1996), MSW at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and her BA at Harvard University (1986). After graduating from university, she worked for a few years for a newspaper, and in a women’s homeless shelter in New York City.

Research interests

Professor Song’s research interests include ethnic identity, ‘race’ and ‘mixed race’, racisms, migration (in its many forms) and immigrant adaptation. Over the years, she has been involved in British, European and North American research networks, including IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion), the American Sociological Association, and the British Sociological Association. 

Professor Song’s most recent book, 'Multiracial Parents: Mixed Race Families, Generational Change, and the Future of Race', was published in September 2017. She is also the author of 'Mixed Race Identities' (co-author with Peter Aspinall), 'Choosing Ethnic Identity', and 'Helping Out: Children’s Labor in Ethnic Businesses'. She has also co-edited a number of books. 

Professor Song was the Guest Professor in Memory of Willy Brandt at the Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare (MIM), in Malmo, Sweden, in Autumn 2013, where she gave a series of research seminars. In Autumn 2017, she was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York. 

Professor Song's current research project, 'Racial Identities and Life Choices among Mixed-Heritage People in the United States', is funded by the Russell Sage Foundation.

This project is carried out in conjunction with Carolyn Liebler (University of Minnesota). As interracial unions and multiracial people are becoming more ordinary in the US, how important are racial and ethnic backgrounds to people with mixed racial heritage and their families? Thus far, while many studies have investigated the identifications of multiracial people, no studies in the US have examined their racial identifications, spousal choices, and their upbringing of their children. In this innovative study, they use their complementary research skills and parallel research interests to understand three intertwined aspects of the lives of mixed-heritage individuals from three distinct racial backgrounds using both qualitative interviews and quantitative analyses of census data. 

They ask: How does a person’s race and ancestry responses link to their choice of spouse and the racial identification of their children? Does the answer to this question vary by location in the United States? Does it vary across different mixed-heritage groups? 


Professor Song teaches modules on the subject of race and racism at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.


Professor Song welcomes independent, motivated students. If you have a proposal within her research areas, please email her to discuss further.


Editorial board membership

Professor Song is on the editorial board of the following refereed journals: 

  • Ethnic and Racial Studies 
  • Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 
  • Ethnicities 
  • Identities


  • American Sociological Association: Council member, section on Asia and Asian America, 2000-2003 
  • Runnymede Trust, Academic Advisory Board 
  • Associate of Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths College 


Showing 50 of 69 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Song, M. (2017). Multi-Racial Parents: Mixed Families, Generational Change, and the Future of Race. [Online]. New York University Press. Available at: https://nyupress.org/books/9781479825905/.
    The world’s multiracial population is considered to be one of the fastest growing of all ethnic groups. In the United States alone, it is estimated that over 20% of the population will be considered “mixed race” by 2050. Public figures—such as former President Barack Obama and Hollywood actress Ruth Negga—further highlight the highly diverse backgrounds of those classified under the umbrella term of “multiracial.” Multiracial Parents considers how mixed-race parents identify with and draw from their cultural backgrounds in raising and socializing their children. Miri Song presents a groundbreaking examination of how the meanings and practices surrounding multiracial identification are passed down through the generations. A revealing portrait of how multiracial identity is and is not transmitted to children, Multiracial Parents focuses on couples comprised of one White and one non-white minority, who were mostly “first generation mixed,” situating her findings in a trans-Atlantic framework. By drawing on detailed narratives about the parents’ children and family lives, this book explores what it means to be multiracial, and whether multiracial identity and status will matter for multiracial people’s children. Many couples suggested that their very existence (and their children’s) is a step toward breaking down boundaries about the meaning of race and that the idea of a mixed-race population is increasingly becoming normalized, despite existing concerns about racism and racial bias within and beyond various communities. A critical perspective on contemporary multiracial families, Multiracial Parents raises fundamental questions about the future significance of racial boundaries and identities.
  • Aspinall, P. and Song, M. (2013). Mixed Race Identities. [Online]. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9781137318893.
    In recent years, Britain has witnessed a significant growth in the 'mixed race' population. However, we still know remarkably little about this diverse population. How do young mixed race people think about and experience their multiracial status? What kinds of ethnic options do mixed race people possess, and how may these options vary across different types of 'mixes'? How important are their ethnic and racial identities, in relation to other bases of identification and belonging? This book investigates the ethnic and racial options exercised by young mixed race people in higher education in Britain, and it is the first to explore the identifications and experiences of various types of mixed race individuals. It reveals the diverse ways in which these young people identify and experience their mixed status, the complex and contingent nature of such identities, and the rise of other identity strands, such as religion, which are now challenging race and ethnicity as a dominant identity.
  • Song, M. (2003). Choosing Ethnic Identity. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
    Choosing Ethnic Identity explores the ways in which people are able to choose their ethnic identities in contemporary multiethnic societies such as the USA and Britain.


  • Song, M. (2020). Rethinking minority status and ‘visibility’. Comparative Migration Studies [Online] 8. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40878-019-0162-2.
    Historically, minority status has been linked with visibility as a non-White person, and such phenotypical visibility has marked people in terms of racial stigmas and discrimination. But definitions and claims to minority status are increasingly complicated (and contested) by immigration and the growth of multiracial people, many of whom are racially ambiguous, and some of whom look White. As the multiracial population in various multi-ethnic societies continues to grow, and diversify, to include multigeneration multiracial people whose non-White ancestries are more distant, questions about recognized minority status will become more pressing. Do we need to rethink the link between minority status and visibility as a non-White person? To what extent should lived experience (as a multiracial person) matter for our understandings of minority status, if one is not a ‘visible’ minority?
  • Song, M. (2019). Is There Evidence of "Whitening" For Asian/White Multiracial People in Britain?. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2019.1654163.
    Growing rates of interracial unions in multi-ethnic societies such as Britain are notable, and point to significant changes in the blurring and possibly shifting nature of ethnic and racial boundaries. Asian Americans who partner with White Americans are assumed to engage in “whitening” – both in terms of their aspirations and their social consequences. Yet little is still known about the aftermath of intermarriage, even in the USA. Drawing on this US literature, this paper considers the whitening thesis in relation to multiracial people in Britain, with a particular focus on Asian/White multiracial people. I draw upon the findings of two British studies – one of multiracial young people in higher education (Aspinall & Song 2013), and another of multiracial people who are parents (Song 2017) – to explore these questions. I argue that conceptualizations of part Asian people (in the USA) as leaning toward their White heritages are often unsubstantiated, and deduced primarily from one key factor: their high rates of intermarriage with White spouses. In addition to the variable ways in which part Asian people may relate to their minority and White ancestries, we must consider the ambivalence, tensions, and contextually variable identifications and practices adopted by multiracial people.
  • Song, M. (2019). Is there evidence of ‘whitening’ for Asian/White multiracial people in Britain?. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies [Online]:1-17. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2019.1654163.
    Growing rates of interracial unions in multi-ethnic societies such as Britain are notable, and point to significant changes in the blurring and possibly shifting nature of ethnic and racial boundaries. Asian Americans who partner with White Americans are assumed to engage in ‘whitening’ – both in terms of their aspirations and their social consequences. Yet little is still known about the aftermath of intermarriage, even in the USA. Drawing on this US literature, this paper considers the whitening thesis in relation to multiracial people in Britain, with a particular focus on Asian/White multiracial people. I draw upon the findings of two British studies – one of multiracial young people in higher education (Aspinall, Peter, and Miri Song. 2013. Mixed Race Identities. London: Palgrave Macmillan), and another of multiracial people who are parents (Song, Miri. 2017. Multiracial Parents: Mixed Race Families, Generational Change and the Future of Race. New York: NYU Press) – to explore these questions. I argue that conceptualizations of part Asian people (in the USA) as leaning toward their White heritages are often unsubstantiated, and deduced primarily from one key factor: their high rates of intermarriage with White spouses. Little attention has been given to part Asian people who try to maintain ties with their Asian ancestries. We must consider the ambivalence, tensions, and contextually variable identifications and practices adopted by multiracial Asian people.
  • Song, M. (2019). Learning From Your Children: Multiracial Parents’ Identifications and Reflections on Their Own Racial Socialization. Emerging Adulthood [Online] 7:119-127. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/2167696818795248.
    Despite the growing importance of racially mixed people and families in Britain, in demographic terms, relatively little is known about the life experiences of multiracial people at disparate stages of their lives, as most studies focus on their identifications at one point in time. In fact, we know very little about how multiracial people are influenced by the life-changing events of partnering and becoming a parent: How may multiracial people’s racial identities be shaped by the experiences of having children? To date, the extant literature has focused on how parents in interracial unions racially identify their multiracial children or how multiracial individuals identify themselves, especially in adolescence and young adulthood. However, little is known of what happens when mixed people themselves become parents or how their own sense of selves may be impacted by their second-generation mixed children and their children’s own identifications and experiences.
  • Song, M. (2018). A spotlight on “established”, as opposed to “newcomer”, Americans. Ethnic and Racial Studies [Online] 41:2265-2271. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2018.1490789?.
    By elaborating upon the idea of “relational assimilation”, Tomas Jimenez alters the dominant lens through which social scientists, and especially sociologists, have understood the concept of assimilation and the effects of immigration. In this highly readable and thoughtful book, we are asked to conceive of this kind of assimilation as one which involves “the give-and-take of adjustment”, not just a one-way route by which “newcomers” must adapt to settings populated by “established” members of the population. According to the author, ongoing forms of immigration and its resulting diversity actually change the regional self-understandings of those who are already living in those settings.
  • Song, M. (2017). Why We Still Need to Talk About Race. Ethnic and Racial Studies [Online] 41:1131-1145. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2018.1410200.
    While the use of the term ‘racism’ is more ubiquitous than ever, many official bodies and people shrink from the concept of ‘race’. Our understandings of racism are increasingly divorced from historical understandings of race and racial difference. This reluctance to use the term race, especially in official surveys and other forms of data collection, is problematic, as it makes it difficult to differentiate among disparate kinds of ethnic and racial experiences. In order to resuscitate a more specific and measured understanding of racism, we must continue to talk and write about race, rather than avoiding reference to this very troublesome concept. The growth of interracial unions and multiracial people in Britain (and many other Western societies) highlights the difficulties of not using racial terminology. An avoidance of ‘race’ undermines our ability to engage in clear and meaningful measures of difference, as well as our ability to challenge racisms.
  • Song, M. (2017). Generational change and how we conceptualise and measure multiracial people and ‘mixture’. Ethnic and Racial Studies [Online] 40:2333-2339. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2017.1344273.
    Until relatively recently, in countries such as the U.S.A. and U.K., individuals could only opt for “single race” categories with which they identified. However, in the 2000 decennial census, respondents in the U.S. were able to choose more than one racial category, while in 2001, a “Mixed” box (with further subcategories) was provided in the England and Wales census for the first time. But the very success of this racial project in these countries has spawned a number of questions for policy-makers and academics who theorize, enumerate and study the experiences of multiracial people. With demographic changes such as generational change, who counts as multiracial or mixed race? This question has yet to receive significant attention. Although mixing is becoming more commonplace, the question of who counts as multiracial is far from straightforward, especially as we look down the generational pipeline.
  • Song, M. (2016). Can there be a truly systematic and comprehensive theory of race?. Ethnic and Racial Studies [Online] 39:2303-2308. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2016.1202425.
    In this ambitious new book, Mustafa Emirbayer and Matthew Desmond contend that there has never been a truly comprehensive and systematic theory of race. They go on to argue that ‘Much of our best work no longer tells us how to understand or reconstruct racial dynamics but simply gives us concrete proof of their continuing significance’ (3). To what extent does The Racial Order theoretically advance existing theorizing of race? An important contribution – and a central plank in the book – is the way in which a wide variety of cultural and social phenomena is discussed and interwoven into the analysis. The authors draw most heavily on Bourdieu, Dewey, and Durkheim, in their elaboration of the racial order
  • Song, M. (2016). Multiracial people and their partners in Britain: Extending the link between intermarriage and integration?. Ethnicities [Online] 16:631-648. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468796816638399.
  • Törngren, S., Irastorza, I. and Song, M. (2016). Towards building a conceptual framework on intermarriage. Ethnicities [Online] 16:497-520. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468796816638402.
    Increasing migration worldwide and the cultural diversity generated as a consequence of international migration has facilitated the unions of people from different countries, religions, races, and ethnicities. Such unions are often celebrated as a sign of integration; however, at the same time as they challenge people's idea of us and them, intermarriages in fact still remain controversial, and even to some extent, taboo in many societies. Research and theorizing on intermarriage is conducted predominantly in the English-speaking North American and British contexts. This special issue includes empirical studies from not only the English-speaking countries such as the U.S., Canada, and the UK, but also from Japan, Sweden, Belgium, France, and Spain and demonstrate the increasingly diverse directions taken in the study of intermarriage in regards to the patterns, experiences, and social implications of intermarriages. Moreover, the articles address the assumed link between intermarriage and “integration.”
  • Song, M. and O’Neill Gutuerrez, C. (2015). WHAT ARE THE PARENTING PRACTICES OF MULTIRACIAL PEOPLE IN BRITAIN?. Ethnic and Racial Studies [Online]:1-22. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2015.1096411.
    Since ‘mixed’ was first offered as an option in the ethnicity question in the 2001 England and Wales Census, Britain's recognition of, and interest in, mixed (or ‘multiracial’) people and families has not abated. Recent studies have focused primarily upon how mixed people identify themselves, or how parents racially identify their multiracial children. But Britain now has a population of multiracial individuals who are themselves parents, about whom we know very little. What are the particular concerns for multiracial individuals who are parents? Do multiracial people (who are parents) want to steer their children toward a particular kind of upbringing, and if so, toward what (and why)? This paper is an in-depth exploration of the various ways in which different types of multiracial people in Britain raise their children. Our main finding is that a significant majority of multiracial parents engage in parenting practices that emphasize a cosmopolitan ethos.
  • Song, M. and O’Neill Gutuerrez, C. (2015). ’Keeping the story alive’ : is ethnic and racial dilution inevitable for multiracial people and their children?. The Sociological Review [Online] 63:680-698. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-954X.12308.
    This paper explores how multiracial parents with White partners articulate narratives of ethnic and racial ‘dilution’ and cultural loss in relation to the socialization of their children. In our broader study of how multiracial parents raise their children, we found that parents commonly spoke of concerns around dilution and generational change in relation to four key themes: the loss of cultural knowledge and diminishing practices that connected parents and their children to a minority ancestry; the embodiment of White-appearing children and the implications of this for family relationships; the use of biological or genetic discourses in relation to reduced blood quantum; and concerns amongst Black/White participants about whitening and the loss of racial consciousness. Parental understandings of dilution varied greatly; some expressed sadness at ‘inevitable’ loss; others were more philosophical about generational change; and others still proactively countered loss through strategies to connect their children to their minority heritages. We show that despite growing awareness of the social constructedness of race and an emergent cosmopolitanism among these parents, discourses of genetics, cultural lineage, and the ‘naturalness’ of race continue to hold sway amongst many multiracial parents.
  • Song, M. (2014). Challenging a culture of racial equivalence. British Journal of Sociology [Online] 65:107-129. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12054.
    We live at a time when our understandings and conceptualizations of ‘racism’ are often highly imprecise, broad, and used to describe a wide range of racialized phenomena. In this article, I raise some important questions about how the term racism is used and understood in contemporary British society by drawing on some recent cases of alleged racism in football and politics, many of which have been played out via new media technologies. A broader understanding of racism, through the use of the term ‘racialization’, has been helpful in articulating a more nuanced and complex understanding of racial incidents, especially of people’s (often ambivalent) beliefs and behaviours. However, the growing emphasis upon
    ‘racialization’ has led to a conceptualization of racism which increasingly involves multiple perpetrators, victims, and practices without enough consideration of how and why particular interactions and practices constitute racism as such.The trend toward a growing culture of racial equivalence is worrying, as it denudes the idea of racism of its historical basis, severity and power.These frequent and commonplace assertions of racism in the public sphere paradoxically end up trivializing and homogenizing quite different forms of racialized interactions. I conclude that we need to retain the term ‘racism’, but we need to differentiate more clearly between ‘racism’ (as an historical and structured system of domination) from the broader notion of ‘racialization’.
  • Aspinall, P. and Song, M. (2013). Is race a ‘salient’ or ‘dominant identity’ in the early 21st century. The evidence of UK survey data on respondents’ sense of who they are. Social Science Research [Online] 42:547-561. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.10.007.
    The term ‘master status’, coined by Everett Hughes in 1945 with special reference to race, was conceptualised as one which, in most social situations, will dominate all others. Since then race and other collective social identities have become key features of people’s lives, shaping their ‘life scripts’. But is race still a ‘master’ or ‘dominant identity’ and, if not, what has replaced it? Analyses of recent social surveys show that race has lost its position to family, religion (in the South Asian and Black groups) and (amongst young mixed race people) also age/life-stage and study/work. However, many of these different identity attributes are consistently selected, suggesting the possibility – confirmed in in-depth interviews – that they may work through each other via intersectionality. In Britain race appears to have been undermined by the rise of ‘Muslim’ identity, the increasing importance of ‘mixed race’, and the fragmentation of identity now increasingly interwoven with other attributes like religion.
  • Song, M. (2012). Making sense of ’mixture’: States and the classification of ’mixed’ people. Ethnic and Racial Studies [Online] 35:565-573. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2012.648650.
  • Song, M. and Aspinall, P. (2012). Is racial mismatch a problem for young ‘mixed race’ people in Britain? The findings of qualitative research. Ethnicities [Online] 12:730-753. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468796811434912.
    Recent evidence concerning the racial identifications of ‘mixed race’ people suggests growing latitude in how they may identify. In this article, we examine whether mixed race young people believe that their chosen identifications are validated by others, and how they respond to others’ racial perceptions of them. While existing studies tend to assume that a disjuncture between self-identification and others’ perceptions of them is problematic, this was not necessarily the case among our respondents. While a racial mismatch between expressed and observed identifications was a common experience for these individuals, they varied considerably in terms of how they responded to such occurrences, so that they could feel: (1) misrecognized (and there were differential bases and experiences of misrecognition); (2) positive about the mismatch; or (3) indifferent to how others racially categorized them in their day-to-day interactions. Some differences in responses to such mismatch emerged among disparate types of mixed people. This study also found that we need to consider national identity, and other forms of belonging, in making sense of the diverse and often multilayered identifications and experiences of mixed race young people in Britain.
  • Song, M. (2012). Part of the British mainstream? British Muslim students and Islamic Student Associations. Journal of Youth Studies [Online] 15:143-160. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2011.630995.
    In recent years, fear of 'the other' has focused particularly on 'home grown' second-generation Muslims. In the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 bombings in London, there was particular horror and incredulity expressed about the fact that many of the bombers had been born and raised in Britain, and universities have been increasingly regarded by various analysts and politicians as potential 'hotbeds of extremism.' Yet apart from sensationalistic images of British Muslims as threatening radicals, we still have relatively little in-depth information about the vast majority of ordinary British Muslim young people in higher education. This article explores young British Muslim students' views and experiences of Islamic Student Associations (ISOCs) at three universities in the southeast. What motivates Muslim students to join ISOCs and can we determine clear differences between those who join ISOCs and those who do not? While there is growing evidence that younger British Muslims are more politicized than their parents, and are more likely to mobilize around their identity as Muslims, most British Muslim students' involvement in ISOCs does not pose a threat to British society or to their ability to negotiate their British and Muslim sense of selves.
  • Song, M. (2010). Is there a mixed race group in Britain? The diversity of multiracial identification and experience. Critical Social Policy [Online] 30:337-358. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0261018310367672.
    In contemporary British society, references to ‘mixed race’ people and to various forms of mixing abound. But to what extent can we say that there is ‘a’ mixed race group in Britain today? If such a group exists, what commonalities underlie the experience of being mixed? In addressing this question, I draw on a study of the racial identifications of different types of mixed young people in Britain. I find that the meanings and significance of race and mixedness in these young people’s lives can vary considerably both across and within specific mixed groups. In conclusion, I argue that while there is evidence of a growing consciousness and interest in being mixed, we cannot (yet) speak of a coherent mixed group or experience in Britain.
  • Song, M. and Hashem, F. (2010). What does "White" Mean? Interpreting the choice of "Race" by mixed race young people in Britain. Sociological Perspectives [Online] 53:287-292. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/sop.2010.53.2.287.
    Despite the often cited idea that racial identities are socially constructed, and potentially fluid, much public policy is still based on surveys that elicit only one measure of racial identity. A number of U.S. studies have employed "best single race" questions on racial identification, in which multiracial respondents are asked to choose only one race to describe themselves. We extend some American studies by examining responses to a "best single race" survey question posed to a small sample of multiracial young people in Britain. In-depth interviews with British multiracial respondents are employed to investigate the extent to which a "best single race" (BSR) question captures someone's sense of attachment and belonging to a particular ethnic or racial group. In particular, we focus on how we should interpret East Asian/white respondents' choice of "white" as their BSR.
  • Song, M. (2010). Does ’race’ matter? A study of mixed race siblings’ identifications. Sociological Review 58:265-285.
    'Mixed' people comprise one of the fastest growing populations in Britain today, and their growth refutes the idea that there exist distinct, 'natural' races among people in multiethnic societies, such as Britain. In recent years, a large body of scholarship, both in the US and Britain, has begun to investigate the diverse social experiences and racial identifications of mixed people. In this article, I investigate the ways in which mixed siblings perceive and think about race and differences in racial, ethnic, and religious identification within their families. What role do race and the recognition of difference play in sibling relationships and in family life more generally? I draw upon a small number of cases to illustrate the diverse ways in which understandings of race, ethnicity, and religion are (or are not) regarded as important in these families. I also consider whether there are group differences in terms of how disparate types of mixed siblings may perceive pressures to identify in particular ways.
  • Song, M. (2010). What happens after segmented assimilation? An exploration of intermarriage and ’mixed race’ young people in Britain. Ethnic and Racial Studies [Online] 33:1194-1213. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419871003625271.
    Theorizing on segmented assimilation has usefully spurred debate about the experiences and positions of the second generation in the US and, more recently, Europe. This theory has focused primarily on how young people fare in secondary school and the crucial role that families and ethnic social networks can play in supporting second-generation individuals. But what happens when young people leave home and enter into mainstream higher education institutions? Theorizing on segmented assimilation does not address either the implications of intermarriage for integration and upward mobility or how we should conceptualize the experiences of the growing numbers of 'mixed race' individuals. In this paper, I first consider the question of whether intermarriage is linked with upward mobility in the British context. I then explore the racial identifications and experiences of disparate types of mixed race young people in Britain. How do such young people identify themselves, and what may their identifications reveal about their sense of belonging in Britain? © 2010 Taylor & Francis.
  • Parker, D. and Song, M. (2009). New ethnicities and the internet: Belonging and the negotiation of difference in multicultural Britain. Cultural Studies [Online] 23:583-604. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09502380902951003.
    Stuart Hall's observation that '..identity is formed at that point where the unspeakable stories of subjectivity meet the narratives of history, of a culture.' (Hall 1987, 'Minimal Selves', in Identity: The Real Me, ICA, London, p. 44) has inspired much of our previous exploration of the lives of second generation Chinese young people in Britain. In this work we have drawn attention to the relative absence of British Chinese voices in public culture. Since 1999 the emergence of Internet discussion sites produced by British Chinese young people has provided forums for many of their previously "unspeakable stories" to circulate. In this paper we re-examine Stuart Hall's influential discussions of identity in the light of the Internet's role in transmitting the discourses he regards as formative, rather than expressive, of identities. The everyday interchanges of the Internet provide more spontaneous representations than the artistic practices prompting Hall's discussion of 'new ethnicities' 20 years ago. Accordingly, the online discussion forums we discuss in this paper address a number of issues often overlooked in appropriations of the new ethnicities terminology. In addition to ongoing debates about the 'place' and experiences of British Chinese people, we examine the growing off-line mobilizations engendered by online engagements.
  • Song, M. (2009). Is intermarriage a good indicator of integration?. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies [Online] 35:331-348. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13691830802586476.
    In this paper I review and examine the assumed link between intermarriage and integration. I focus primarily on literature from the US and Britain. Intermarriage is said to signal a significant lessening of ‘social distance’ between a minority group and the White majority, enabling unions between groups which would previously have been taboo. It is often assumed that intermarriage for ethnic minorities is the ultimate litmus test of integration, but is it? And if there is a link between intermarriage and integration, what is the nature and extent of ‘integration’ achieved by minority groups and by the minority partner? I argue that the link between intermarriage and integration is both more tenuous and more complex than many social scientists have argued, and needs a critical reappraisal, especially in multiethnic societies which are witnessing unprecedented levels of diversity, both across and within their ethnic minority groups.
  • Parker, D. and Song, M. (2007). Inclusion, participation and the emergence of British Chinese websites. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies [Online] 33:1043-1061. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13691830701541564.
    Previous work has drawn attention to the relative absence of British Chinese voices in public culture. No one is more aware of this invisibility than British-born Chinese people themselves. Since 2000 the emergence of Internet discussion sites produced by British Chinese young people has provided an important forum for many of them to grapple with questions concerning their identities, experiences and status in Britain. In this paper we explore the ways in which Internet usage by British-born Chinese people has facilitated forms of self-expression, collective identity production and social and political action. This examination of British Chinese websites raises important questions about inclusion and exclusion, citizenship, participation and the development of a sense of belonging in Britain, issues which are usually overlooked in relation to a group which appears to be well integrated and successful in higher education.
  • Parker, D. and Song, M. (2006). New ethnicities online: Reflexive racialisation and the internet. Sociological Review [Online] 54:575-594. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2006.00630.x.
    In this article we analyse the emergence of Internet activity addressing the experiences of young people in two British communities: South Asian and Chinese. We focus on two web sites: www.barficulture.com and www.britishbornchinese.org.uk, drawing on interviews with site editors, content analysis of the discussion forums, and E-mail exchanges with site users. Our analysis of these two web sites shows how collective identities still matter, being redefined rather than erased by online interaction. We understand the site content through the notion of reflexive racialisation. We use this term to modify the stress given to individualisation in accounts of reflexive modernisation. In addition we question the allocation of racialised meaning from above implied by the concept of racialisation. Internet discussion forums can act as witnesses to social inequalities and through sharing experiences of racism and marginalisation, an oppositional social perspective may develop. The online exchanges have had offline consequences: social gatherings, charitable donations and campaigns against adverse media representations. These web sites have begun to change the terms of engagement between these ethnic groups and the wider society, and they have considerable potential to develop new forms of social action.
  • Parker, D. and Song, M. (2006). Ethnicity, social capital and the Internet: British Chinese websites. Ethnicities [Online] 6:178-202. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468796806063751.
    This article explores websites developed to express the interests and experiences of young Chinese people in Britain. Drawing on content analysis of site discussions and dialogues with site users, we argue these new communicative practices are best understood through a reworking of the social capital problematic. First, by recognizing the irreducibility of Internet-mediated connections to the calculative instrumentalism underlying many applications of social capital theory. Second, by providing a more differentiated account of social capital. The interactions we explore comprise a specifically 'second generation' form of social capital, cutting across the binary of bonding and bridging social capital. Third, judgement on the social capital consequences of Internet interactions must await a longer-term assessment of whether British Chinese institutions emerge to engage with the wider polity.
  • Song, M. (2004). Introduction:Who’s at the bottom? Examining claims about racial hierarchy. Ethnic and Racial Studies [Online] 27:859-877. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0141987042000268503.
    Why do claims about racial hierarchy matter? The question whether some
    groups are worse off than others is highly pertinent at a time when there is
    growing recognition of multiple forms of racisms and racial oppression. It
    is widely accepted that racial hierarchies are still with us today, and this
    concept is peppered throughout writings on ‘‘race’’ and racisms, but,
    what, exactly, are racial hierarchies, how do racial hierarchies continue to
    matter, and in what ways do they operate? This special issue, which
    focuses on the USA and Britain, also addresses the following questions:
    Does the concept of racial hierarchy aid us in illuminating racial
    inequalities and the differential experiences of groups in Western multiethnic
    societies such as the USA and Britain? What sorts of criteria are
    used in arguments about the place of groups along racial hierarchies?
    What are the political implications of claims made about racial
  • Song, M. (2004). When the ’global chain’ does not lead to satisfaction all round: A comment on the Morecambe Bay tragedy. Feminist Review [Online]:137-140. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400160.

Book section

  • Song, M. (2015). The British Chinese : A Typical Trajectory of ’Integration’?. In: Baldassar, L., Johanson, G., McAuliffe, N. and Bressan, M. eds. Chinese Migration to Europe : Prato, Italy and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Song, M. (2012). The Changing Configuration of Migration and Race (Chapter 14). In: Gold, S. J. and Nawyn, S. J. eds. Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd.
  • Song, M. and Aspinall, P. (2012). ‘Mixed race’ young people’s differential responses to misrecognition in Britain. In: Edwards, R., Ali, S., Caballero, C. and Song, M. eds. International Perspectives on Racial Mixing and Mixedness. Routledge, pp. 125-140.
  • Parker, D. and Song, M. (2011). New ethnicities and the internet: belonging and the negotiation of difference in multicultural Britain. In: Alexander, C. ed. Stuart Hall and ’Race’. Taylor & Francis Ltd, pp. 127-148.
  • Song, M. (2011). The racial identification of “mixed race” young people in Britain. In: Hylton, K., Pilkington, A., Warmington, P. and Housee, S. eds. Atlantic Crossings : International Dialogues on Critical Race Theory. The Higher Education Academy Network, pp. 132-153.
  • Song, M. (2008). Mixed race siblings and racial identification. In: Klett-Davies, M. ed. Putting Sibling Relationships on the Map: A Multi-Disciplinary Perspective. London: Family and Parenting Institute.
  • Song, M. (2006). Gender in a global world. In: Davis, K., Evans, M. and Lorber, J. eds. Handbook of Gender and Women’s Studies. SAGE Publications Ltd, pp. 185-195.
  • Song, M. (2005). Global and local articulations of Asian identity. In: Alexander, C. and Knowles, C. eds. Making Race Matter: Bodies, Space and Identity. Palgrave USA, pp. 60-75.
  • Song, M. (2004). Racial hierarchies in the USA and Britain : investigating a politically sensitive issue (Chapter 12). In: Bulmer, M. and Solomos, J. eds. Researching Race and Racism. Taylor & Francis Ltd, pp. 172-186.
  • Parker, D. and Song, M. (2001). Introduction: Rethinking ’Mixed Race’. In: Parker, D. and Song, M. eds. Rethinking ’Mixed Race’. Pluto Press, pp. 1-22.
  • Song, M. (2001). Chinese children’s work roles in immigrant adaptation. In: Mizen, P., Pole, C. and Bolton, A. eds. Hidden Hands: International Perspectives on Children’s Work and Labour. Taylor & Francis Ltd, pp. 55-69.


  • Aspinall, P., Song, M. and Hashem, F. (2008). The Ethnic Options of ‘mixed race’ People in Britain: Full Research Report. ESRC. Available at: http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/esrcinfocentre/viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-000-23-1507.
    The ‘mixed race’ population has increased significantly in size over the last ten to fifteen years, due mainly to the growing number of inter-ethnic unions but also the acceptability of declaring mixed race identities. Over 670,000 people chose to identify with the newly included ‘Mixed’ categories in the 2001 UK Censuses and the group is now one of the fastest growing. The census
    enumeration of the group has led to substantial research interest in its demography and how its membership identifies in ethnic/racial terms. However, at the time of the application, relatively little research had focused on how ‘mixed race’ people perceived their range of identity options and how they made decisions about these options. Even less was known about how the experiences of disparate kinds of ‘mixed’ people might vary, especially in relation to these identity choices they perceive and make.
  • Aspinall, P., Song, M. and Hashem, F. (2006). Mixed Race in Britain: A Survey of the Preferences of Mixed Race People for Terminology and Classifications. Centre for Health Services Studies.


  • Tu, M. (2016). Middle Class One-Child Migrants: Between Transnational Aspirations in the UK and Family Responsibility in China.
    The rapid economic development in China since 1978 and the one-child policy enacted in 1979 produced a large number of middle class families with only one child. Initially inspired by the Western means to affluence, these one-child migrants came to the UK (mostly) as international students and remained after their study to take up opportunities to gain work in the professions. As the only child they were faced with the dilemma of seeking greater mobility in the host country, and looking after their ageing parents in China. This research seeks to understand the factors behind their decision to migrate or to settle, and how the only-child migrants in the UK negotiate filial obligations in relation to their parents in China. The transnational one-child family provides a unique case for investigating how families function and change under extreme conditions; as well as how traditional family values and practices shift in the 21st Century within the context of rapid modernisation.

    The findings of the research are based on interviews with 27 one-child migrants, 6 migrants with siblings and 7 parents of the one-child participants. The migrant participants are from different regions of China and were dispersed in the UK. The majority of the sample has an urban middle class background. By including parents and children from the same family, which is rarely done in transnational family research, this study is able to analyse the separated household members from both sides. The detailed accounts of the migrants' lived experience reveal a multi-level decision-making process over the life course of these families, a predominately parent-to-child intergenerational material transfer, as well as a reconfigured reciprocity between one-child migrants and their parents.

    Families represent the most intimate form of a transnational social field. One-child transnational families in this study have shown intense circulation of material resources, emotion and care forged by the biological bond and family contract; these families played a crucial "bridging" role that connects the social spaces between China and the UK. As a result individual migrants are actively involved in relationships in multi-layered spaces, and simultaneously influenced by these relationships. International education and the globalised late-capital world gave rise to a demographic of Western-educated Chinese migrants who are relatively mobile, while some aspects of their lives are still geographically bound. By introducing the time factor into the family-migration nexus the thesis shows that migrants' establishment in the host country and their transnational ties are neither incompatible, nor are they static; their relationship evolves with the life cycle of the individuals, and the changing society in both the host country and China.
  • Sundberg, T. (2014). A Crisis in Welfare Legitimacy? A Review of citizens’ Support for the Welfare State in Times of Change.

Edited book

  • Song, M. (2014). Global Mixed Race. King-O’Riain, R. C., Small, S., Mahtani, M., Song, M. and Spickard, P. eds. New York University Press.
    Patterns of migration and the forces of globalization have brought the issues of mixed race to the public in far more visible, far more dramatic ways than ever before. Global Mixed Race examines the contemporary experiences of people of mixed descent in nations around the world, moving beyond US borders to explore the dynamics of racial mixing and multiple descent in Zambia, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Okinawa, Australia, and New Zealand. In particular, the volume's editors ask: how have new global flows of ideas, goods, and people affected the lives and social placements of people of mixed descent? Thirteen original chapters address the ways mixed-race individuals defy, bolster, speak, and live racial categorization, paying attention to the ways that these experiences help us think through how we see and engage with social differences. The contributors also highlight how mixed-race people can sometimes be used as emblems of multiculturalism, and how these identities are commodified within global capitalism while still considered by some as not pure or inauthentic. A strikingly original study, Global Mixed Race carefully and comprehensively considers the many different meanings of racial mixedness.
  • Song, M. (2012). International Perspectives on Racial and Ethnic Mixedness and Mixing. Ali, S., Cabellero, C., Edwards, R. and Song, M. eds. Taylor & Francis Ltd.
    People from a 'mixed' or 'inter' racial and ethnic background, and people partnering and parenting across different racial and ethnic backgrounds, are of increasing political, public and intellectual interest internationally. Contributors to this interdisciplinary collection interrogate notions of mixedness and mixing, and challenge stereotypical assumptions. They advance debates in the field through illuminating the complexity of specific historical trajectories, administrative practices and lived experience. Recurrent themes woven throughout the chapters include: boundaries and categorisation in terms of administration and government, and also of lived experience the explicit and implicit politics of mixedness and mixing in terms of nation state interests, agenda and policies, as well as 'on the ground' social relations the ways that mixedness and mixing shift in meaning and implications across time and place, shaped by different national, regional and or local contexts. This volume shows that who is and is not 'mixed' is contested and understandings of mixedness and mixing, however conceived, need to be situated in the larger complex of ideas about race and its classification. International Perspectives on Racial and Ethnic Mixedness and Mixing is an invaluable book for students and scholars of race and ethnicity.
  • Parker, D. and Song, M. eds. (2001). Rethinking ’Mixed Race’. London: Pluto Press.
    One of the fastest growing ethnic populations in many Western societies is that of people of mixed descent. However, when talking about multicultural societies or 'mixed race', the discussion usually focuses on people of black and white heritage. The contributors to this collection rectify this with a broad and pluralistic approach to the experiences of 'mixed race' people in Britain and the USA. The contributors argue that people of mixed descent reveal the arbitrary and contested logic of categorisation underpinning racial divisions. Falling outside the prevailing definitions of racialised identities, their histories and experiences illuminate the complexities of identity formation in the contemporary multicultural context. The authors examine a range of issues. These include gender; transracial and intercountry adoptions in Britain and the US; interracial partnering and marriage; 'mixed race' and family in the English-African diaspora; theorising of 'mixed race' that transcends the black/white binary and includes explorations of 'mixtures' among non-white minority groups; and the social and political evolution of multiracial panethnicity.


  • Making multiracials: State, family, and market in the redrawing of the color line (2008). Ethnic and Racial Studies [Online] 31:1013-1014. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870802099001.
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