Racism and bullying in rural primary schools: protecting White identities post Macpherson

Martin Myers, Kalwant Bhopal

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    This article examines how two primary schools in rural England with overwhelmingly White populations (of students and teachers) dealt with incidents of racist bullying in relation to their race equality policies. The data are drawn from in-depth interviews with parents, head teachers and teachers. The article draws on the work of Foucault to argue that students are situated in a ‘historical moment’ in which schools acknowledge racism formally and publicly, but this does not reflect their informal, private practices. Consequently, whilst systems are established that could respond to racist bullying, in practice these do not necessarily emerge in the school. A local discourse emerges that counters suggestions of racism by pointing to the existence of anti-racist systems and describing racism as something distanced geographically and historically from rural settings. White identities are both privileged and protected by this process whilst non-White students are disadvantaged.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)125-143
    JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
    Issue number2
    Early online date1 Sept 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


    • bullying
    • racism
    • mostly White school
    • Macpherson
    • Stephen Lawrence Inquiry
    • Foucault
    • rural schools


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