Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

What to do with ‘white working-class’ underachievement? Framing ‘white working-class’ underachievement in post-Brexit England.

ir/relevance of race seminar with Esther Miedema and Kafui Adjogatse

26Mar2018 15:30 - 17:00


Scrutinizing the recent disproportionate media and political attention provided to the ills of the ‘white working-class’, this article examines the framing of their apparent underachievement in education policy and discourse in post-Brexit vote England.

In a political context dominated by anti-immigration and nationalist rhetoric, this article aims to investigate the framing of such underachievement across class, gender and ethnic differentials.

To that end, a Critical Frame Analysis was conducted of three policy documents focusing on differences in diagnosis of, and solutions for, ‘white working-class' underachievement.

We contend that the political emphasis on redistributive social justice and identity politics introduces a logic that can lead to remedies consistent with the idea of interest-divergence emanating from Critical Race Theory (CRT). The article concludes that transformative reform is lacking and communicated outcomes overly focus on ‘white working-class’ boys as a specific target, obscuring issues common across and specific to other groups.

About the lecturers

  • Dr. Esther Miedema is a Lecturer in the Governance and Inclusive Development research programme (GID) of the AISSR, co-principal investigator of the 5-year, 11-country 'Her Choice' research programme on early marriage: and principal investigator of a comprehensive sexuality education research project in Ethiopia. Her teaching and research are in the field of education, gender, sexuality and international development. She is interested in a) the genealogy of, and interactions between, global, national and local narratives about education, young people and health within sexuality education, and b) the ways in which young women and men contest and subvert gendered norms and violence, and inequalities more broadly.
  • Kafui Adjogatse is a Research Master’s student in International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Warwick in July 2010, with a quantitative dissertation focusing on the differences between socio-economic incentive structures between violent and non-violent crime in the United States. Having spent five years working as a Credit Analyst at Macquarie Bank specialising on Emerging Markets and Tax Structures, he returned to academia in 2016. His research interests include intersectional structures of oppression across ethnicity, class and gender, in addition to international trade and tax systems. He has recently conducted fieldwork in Mexico for a Research Master’s dissertation that investigates the role of the primary school teacher in the (re)production of an ‘anti-black’ Mexican national identity.

About the seminar series 

In this seminar series the relevance and irrelevance of race is being discussed as an object and concept of research in order to explore ways to talk about race without naturalizing differences. The series goes beyond a standard definition of race, one that is allegedly relevant everywhere, and situates race in specific practices of research. In addition the series gives room to the various different versions of race that can be found in the European context and explores when and how populations, religions, and cultures become naturalized and racialized. Scholars from different (inter)disciplinary fields (such as genetics, anthropology, philosophy, cultural studies, history, political sciences, science and technology studies) are invited to address the issue of race through a paper presentation. The seminar is held every six weeks at the University of Amsterdam. Go to webpage seminar series.

Common Room Anthropology B5.12

  • Roeterseilandcampus - building B/C/D (entrance B/C)

    Nieuwe Achtergracht 166 | 1018 WV Amsterdam
    Building B: +31 (0)20 525 5340 | Building C: +31 (0)20 525 5470

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