Advancing ‘race’ and ethnicity in educational research

Published on: Author: Mark Murphy Leave a comment

By Oscar Odena and Richard Race.

There is a prevailing sense that the term ‘race’, used in the past to highlight difference based on perceived ability and temperament, is no longer acceptable. ‘Race’ issues appear to be currently off the policy agenda, subsumed into ‘social justice’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘ethnicity’ topics. However ‘race’ is still a visible and problematic concept because there are powerful and often subliminal voices that reiterate the falsehood of separate and deterministic races. Ethnicity is a related term which is a way of talking about social groupings of people that are based on notions of difference. Both ‘race’ and ethnicity are socially constructed and can shape educational issues such as choosing a school for a child or a university place for an adult. Some examples of how this happens are considered in the book Advancing Race and Ethnicity in Education, edited by Race and Lander.

To advance research in topics that are off the policy agenda there is a need to show research users that researchers are being thorough rather than fanciful. Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (CAQDAS) may be used to substantiate researchers’ claims in the wider contexts of race and ethnicity. Paraphrasing reflective authors, the use of CAQDAS has changed how emerging ideas are mapped, influencing reflection-in-analysis and reflection-on-analysis when developing theoretical frameworks. Social scientists should be encouraged to disclose the steps taken when analysing data, as well as the amount of data collected – a case from an ethnic-inclusion enquiry in Northern Ireland is outlined in Odena’s chapter in the book above.

If we aim to advance educational research in areas of race and ethnicity there is a need to continue to focus on social inequalities and social equity. In their edited collection, Race and Lander bring together a broad range of authors and subjects looking at current research in education and the wider social sciences. The objective of the collection is to provide a theoretical, empirical and methodological informed discussion of a complex number of issues relating to and advancing race and ethnicity within educational research. The challenge is to not only increase understandings of race and ethnicity issues but to contribute to ongoing debates which the authors of the chapters have set out. The book was launched at Roehampton University in June 2014 and Richard Race presented on themes and issues concerning the book and his ongoing research on multiculturalism and integration education policy at the Robert Owen Centre on Thursday 4th December 2014.

[image (c) Phil Roeder]

About Oscar:

OscarOdenaOscar is Reader in Education and a core member of the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at Glasgow University. Originally from Spain, he has conducted educational research in a range of contexts nationally and internationally, including in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Catalonia and The Republic of Ireland. More information on Oscar can be found on his Glasgow University webpage. You can contact him at

About Richard:

Richard RaceRichard is Senior Lecturer in Education at Roehampton University. He is author of Multiculturalism and Education whose second edition is being published by Bloomsbury. He is co-editor of Advancing Race and Ethnicity in Education (2014) with Palgrave Macmillan. He is also currently writing his second monograph, Integration and Education Policy-Making with Palgrave Macmillan. You can contact him at

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