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Racisms, gendered identities and young children: An ethnographic study of a multi-ethnic, inner-city primary school.

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posted on 19.11.2015, 08:55 by Paul Connolly
This thesis explores the salience of 'race' in young children's lives. It focuses on five- and six-year-old children through an ethnographic study of a multiethnic, inner-city primary school and its surrounding community. Alongside detailed observations of the children and the use of secondary source data, the extensive use of in-depth, largely unstructured group interviews with the children offers one of the first comprehensive studies to focus on the subjective worlds of the children in and of themselves. In doing this the thesis draws attention to the social competency of young children and their ability, at the ages of five and six, to actively appropriate, re-work and reproduce discourses on 'race' in the construction of their gendered identities. Through the appropriation and adaptation of the work of Michel Foucault and, moreover, Pierre Bourdieu, the thesis also proposes a more sensitive theoretical frame able to appreciate: the essentially open, contingent and context-specific nature of racism; the complexities of power within an analysis of racism that can not only be seen through its material expression across time and space but also as it impacts upon the very selves of young children; and the articulation of racisms across various levels of the social formation. This latter concern is particularly apposite given the extant literature in that very little ethnographic work focusing on racism in either primary or secondary schools in Britain has broadened its analysis to adequately incorporate the influence of social relations beyond the confines of the school.


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University of Leicester

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