Problematising the role of the white researcher in social justice research

Building R19, Room 422, School of Education
Wednesday 22 January 2014 (17:30-19:00)


Problematising the role of the white researcher in social justice research

Centre for Research in Race and Education (CRRE) Seminar Series

With speaker Dr Charlotte Chadderton, University of East London

Seminar Overview

This paper contributed to the debate on decolonizing 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 drew on data from a recent ethnographic study of minority ethnic pupils’ experiences in secondary schools in England, and interrogated the tensions between the research aim to challenge racial stereotyping in education, and issues of race and power emerging from the research process. The paper investigated 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 drew on insights from both Critical Race Theory and the work of Judith Butler, Dr Chadderton problematised issues of voice and representation in conducting social justice research. She works towards a possible research methodology which tried 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. Such a recognition by white researchers will necessarily be an uncomfortable process.


Dr Chadderton is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Cass School of Education and Communities, University of East London. She researches issues of social justice and inequalities in education, with a particular focus on race. Her fields of interest include critical race theory, poststructural theories of identity, formal and informal learning, 14-19 education and secondary transitions and qualitative research methods. Her current research is on issues of militarisation and surveillance in schooling, and the way in which such developments impact on social inequalities.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities