Special issue of Ethnography and Education. 'Ethnographies of Education for Social Justice'

Ethnographies of Education for Social Justice

Call for papers – a proposed special issue of Ethnography and Education

How might interactions between ethnographers and research participants influence the unfolding research process, the practices that are being researched, the perspectives held by participants, and the contexts within which the research takes place? And what are the possibilities of such approaches to the ethnography of education for generating truly useful knowledge for educational change and social transformation in the interests of not only enhanced educational praxis, but also social justice? These are the two questions that we wish to address in this special issue.

Our ambition is to explicate the creation of spaces where researchers and participants empower the research process can generate possibilities of mutual transformational dialogues. Previous ethnographic research carried out in different countries makes explicit how research practices can contribute to teachers' autonomous constructions of themselves as professionals, being able to reflect critically and control their own educational practices based on propositional knowledge that can be incorporated into their teaching practices. The analysis of the information during the research process provides a knowledge that serves to stimulate and centre the conscience of the teachers, on what they know. It also enables them to develop that knowledge and allows them to have a point of reference to fit their own experiences. We wish to extend this lens for analysis away from teachers towards students, parents, community leaders, and any other people who can claim an interest in or concern for educational processes, practices, and praxis, from a social justice standpoint.

Social justice is a complex construct that invariably lacks an unproblematic operationalization within social research. Rather than seek to explore educational practices (in the widest sense, not restricted to schooling or other forms of compulsory education) from the perspective of a narrow model of social justice, we seek instead to use ethnographic research to situate a rich and complex model of social justice that eschews simplistic notions of 'equity' or 'access' to particular forms of educational provision, and instead foregrounds the participatory potential of the researched in order to generate emancipatory spaces for parents, students, or others to make sense of their own condition and position, and to co-construct, in a meaningful way, powerful knowledge amongst and of themselves, whilst a the same time not seeking to sidestep difficult issues surrounding the role of the researcher in the reification of the research text.

For this proposed special issue of Ethnography and Education, we are inviting expressions of interest from ethnographers of education in the most generous sense – online ethnographers, institutional ethnographers, meta-ethnographers, as well as 'traditional' anthropological ethnographers – with an interest in considering critical models of social justice through educational research, from all areas of education – schools, museums, universities, vocational education.

Please send extended abstracts (500 words, not including references) to

Begoña Vigo Arrazola -


Jonathan Tummons –

by 31 March 2020