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Fitting into categories or falling between them? Rethinking ethnic classification

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alastair Bonnett


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The collection of ethnic and racial statistics has become common in a growing number of institutional settings. Yet contemporary approaches to race and ethnicity suggest that the very process of compelling people to assign themselves to one of a small number of racial or ethnic 'boxes' is, at best, essentialist and, at worst, racist. This article will explore this problematic terrain, and venture a pathway through it, with the aid of findings from a study of ethnic minority English and Welsh student teachers' attitudes to ethnic classification. The discussion comprises three parts. The first sets out to provide a brief theoretical analysis of the genesis of ethnic monitoring within the modern state. It is concluded that,ethnic monitoring may usefully be regarded as a problematic necessity, a process that itself needs constant monitoring. With this agenda in place, we move on to assess the implications of our findings on student teachers' attitudes to ethnic monitoring, Their pointers for reform are discussed in the third and final section of the paper, where the policy implications of research are outlined.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bonnett A, Carrington B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Sociology of Education

Year: 2000

Volume: 21

Issue: 4

Pages: 487-500

ISSN (print): 0142-5692

ISSN (electronic): 1465-3346


DOI: 10.1080/713655371


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