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Equality and Diversity training: An ethnographic approach

Chachamu, Netta 2017. Equality and Diversity training: An ethnographic approach. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Equality and Diversity (E&D) training is currently a widely used practice which aims to improve E&D in workplaces, including universities. There has been considerable research on contemporary E&D training from the perspective of management studies, with an interest in evaluation of efficacy. However, E&D training has been a neglected topic in the sociology of education, and there have been few studies illuminating what happens in E&D training using ethnographic data. This thesis begins to fill that gap with an in-depth ethnographic exploration of present day E&D training for staff at universities. In this thesis, I ask how the prevalence of E&D training came about, and what exactly happens in E&D training? I place contemporary E&D training in its socio-historical context by tracing the historical roots of E&D as a practice. I show that those roots lie in the social psychology of the 1920s in the USA, which was beginning to operationalise the concepts of attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices. These psychological ideas are intertwined with the development of E&D training and continue to be significant components of training today. Tracing this history to the UK shows that training has grown as a response to police racism, and extended to become a technique for responding to other forms of oppression such as sexism and disablism. The ethnographic research was undertaken at universities in England and Wales. The findings show that E&D training in its current form usually attempts to cover several axes of oppression during one half-day session. The pedagogic techniques used are primarily didactic teaching and small group discussions, while the curriculum is dominated by two forms of knowledge – legal and psychological. Where the law forms the curriculum of the training, I argue that the complexity of the Equality Act 2010 makes it difficult to use the concepts and vocabulary of the Act to convey a consistent analysis of discrimination. Where psychological concepts inform the training, psychology is used to claim that everyone inevitably has prejudices and biases. I argue that as well as depoliticising the concept of discrimination, this can be understood as a way of navigating around trainees’ anxieties about being identified with the discursive figure of the ‘bigot’. I argue that neither approach effectively overcomes the pedagogic challenges of E&D training.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 July 2018
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2021 16:53

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