Problematising the role of the white researcher in social justice research

Chadderton, C (2012) 'Problematising the role of the white researcher in social justice research.' Ethnography and Education, 7 (3). pp. 363-380. ISSN 1745-7823

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This article contributes to the debate on decolonising methodologies in qualitative research by considering how a white researcher can try and destabilise white supremacy when explicitly conducting research with social justice aims. It draws on data from a recent ethnographic study of minority ethnic pupils’ experiences in secondary schools in England and interrogates the tensions between the research aim to challenge racial stereotyping in education and issues of race and power emerging from the research process. This article investigates specifically the ways in which interaction is shaped by – frequently hidden, particularly to those privileged by them – structures of white supremacy. Developing an innovative analytical framework which draws on insights from both critical race theory and the work of Judith Butler, the researcher problematises issues of voice and representation in conducting social justice research. It is argued that an approach which engages with elements of both structural and post-structural theory allows a more critical exploration of white supremacy through an understanding of the performativity of race. The author works towards a possible research methodology which not only takes into account, but also tries to destabilise processes of white supremacy in research by both recognising participants’ efforts to do this, and trying to make researchers better able to take responsibility for their own complicity in perpetuating unequal racial structures. It is argued that such a recognition by white researchers will necessarily be an uncomfortable process.

Item Type: Article

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Keywords: social justice research, critical race theory, white supremacy, Judith Butler, voice and representation
Divisions: School of Education
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Date Deposited: 03 May 2018 14:09
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:50
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