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Census stories: bringing statistics to life in Milton Keynes
Census stories: bringing statistics to life in Milton Keynes

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.


In this course you have looked at two kinds of sources that help us to understand religious and non-religious change: the census data and stories. You have seen how these two kinds of data can complement each other, helping us to understand both better.

The census data gives us a ‘big’ story. It shows us, for example, that religious identity has been changing rapidly in our increasingly globalised society, particularly in fast-developing multicultural urban environments like Milton Keynes, where we find a high influx of newcomers and migrant populations. Indeed, Milton Keynes makes a fascinating case study of changing trends in religious identity and belonging in Britain, because this town shows the accelerated changes in the British religious and ethnic landscape since the 1960s, coinciding with the creation of this new town in 1967.

The census data shows the rise in ethnic and religious diversity in Milton Keynes. This includes diversity within Christianity, for example, the black majority churches. There is also the expansion of minority religious traditions, which is evident also in the town’s rich religious architecture, with its many Islamic mosques and Hindu temples. Islam and Hinduism are two of the biggest minority religions in the UK, also according to census data nationwide. Alongside the growth of these larger minority religions, new religions have also been observed, as well as a rise of ‘non-religion’, which is perhaps the most statistically significant development of its type in recent decades.

We can both illustrate and complicate the ‘big story’ drawn from census data by listening to the individual stories of people (after all, the ‘big story’ of the census is ultimately a reflection – in some ways very helpful, but in some ways limited – of many hundreds of thousands of personal stories). This course's short animated stories provide a glimpse into the complicated issues of identity and belonging we, modern humans, must grapple with. 

To complete the course, please take a few minutes to reflect on the following questions, brought to light by the census data, as well as Anita, Steve and Cecil’s stories:

What kind of changes in religious identities can we see in modern, increasingly global, multicultural and multifaith societies, like Britain? How are religious and ethnic identities shaped by growing up between two or more cultures?

What might have been some of the challenges and opportunities encountered by children and young people from different backgrounds growing up in Britain since the 1960s, given the rapid growth of multicultural towns and cities? (You might consider, for example, young people growing up in diaspora religious communities, whose school friends might have known very little about their religion and culture.)

How does living in a plural, increasingly individualistic, multicultural society impact how people celebrate life’s major events, like birth, marriage and death?

Congratulations on completing the course!

Optional stories

You have now completed the course and earned your Statement of Participation. But if you would like to listen to a couple of optional, extended stories portraying religious identities from Milton Keynes, go to the next page.