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New analysis of census figures shows that the number of people in England and Wales living with or married to someone from another group jumped 35 per cent to 2.3 million in the 10-years up to the last census.During that period the number of people described on census forms as “mixed” or “multiple” ethnicity almost doubled from just 660,000 in 2001 to 1.2 million in 2011, making it by far the fastest growing category.If you are familiar with computer programming terminology, you can liken dating to a sub-routine that has been added to the system of courtship.Over the course of this two-part article, I would like to trace how this change occurred, especially concentrating on the origin of this dating "subroutine." Let me begin by briefly suggesting four cultural forces that assisted in moving from, as Alan Carlson puts it, the more predictable cultural script that existed for several centuries, to the multi-layered system and (I think most would agree) the more ambiguous courtship system that includes "the date." The first, and probably most important change we find in courtship practices in the West occurred in the early 20th century when courtship moved from public acts conducted in private spaces (for instance, the family porch or parlor) to private or individual acts conducted in public spaces, located primarily in the entertainment world, as Beth Bailey argues in her book, .People from an African background are five and a half times as likely to be in a mixed relationship as white people, while those of Indian ancestry are three times as likely.Age is the crucial factor with those in their 20s and 30s more than twice as likely to be living with someone from another background as those over 65, reflecting a less rigid approach to identity over time.There are many challenges and issues that must be addressed when two people from different backgrounds begin to get serious about one another.But while the number of people from black, Asian and mixed-race backgrounds settling down with someone from another group have all risen, white people remain by far the most segregated on the domestic front.
By contrast 85 per cent of people from mixed-race families have themselves set up home with someone from another group.Fourthly, we find a change in the models and metaphors used to describe the home and family.Prior to the 20th century, when we talked about courtship we used language and metaphors of home and family: system of courtship that played itself out in the entertainment culture and public square largely was understood and described by the advice and "expert" class with metaphors taken from modern industrial capitalism.At the same time that the public entertainment culture was on the rise in the early 20th century, a proliferation of magazine articles and books began offering advice about courtship, marriage and the relationship between the sexes.As Ken Myers says in , from the late 1930s on, young people knew, down to the percentage point, what their peers throughout the country thought and did.