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Abstract deadline
30 June 2021

Manuscript deadline
31 January 2022

Cover image - Educational Review

Educational Review

Special Issue Editor(s)

Prof Sarah Jane Aiston, Teesside University
[email protected]

Prof Guido Walraven, Inholland University of Applied Sciences
[email protected]

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A re-view of educational inequalities

This special issue of Educational Review focuses on educational inequalities in an age of globalization and superdiversity. In particular, it will centre upon (1) what we know and don’t know about inequality in education (2) an analysis of why educational inequalities continue to exist and develop (3) re-analysing explanatory frameworks and exploring new ways of approaching this persistent issue.

The last ten to fifteen years has witnessed major geo-political events with huge implications for social relations at local, national and global levels. Chief among these are: the growing divide between rich and poor and political polarization. In addition, the Me Too movement has given a voice to those who have suffered sexual harassment or violence.  In 2020 we have witnessed a global pandemic (COVID-19), which has brought into sharp focus existing inequalities, highlighting that already disadvantaged groups - or rather: groups living in disadvantaged circumstances – suffered the consequences of COVID-19 more greatly. 2020 has also witnessed the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, drawing attention to systemic racism, and the role of education and institutions in perpetuating racial inequality.  The climate change crisis, and associated environmental protests, further highlights global inequalities, which also have a particular educational expression.

Scope of Special Issue

Within this context, educational inequalities persist as ‘wicked problems’ (Rittel and Webber, 1973; Case and Huisman, 2016); complex, with solutions dependent on how problems are framed, with different stakeholders holding different perspectives, which we might refer to as a multifaceted perspective of the ‘definition of the situation’ (Rhoads and Gu, 2017). Our understanding about the causes and remedies of ‘wicked problems’ is often incomplete, or contested. This means there are no easy solutions. In this context we ask authors to critically re-view global, national, regional and local educational inequalities.

The special issue asks for papers that address three main questions:

  • To what extent is our view of the (‘old’) inequalities still applicable in the present juncture, for example, how does class, gender, disability, race and ethnicity continue to shape educational trajectories and experiences, and why?’;
  • What ‘new’ educational inequalities are now here, and how do they relate to those that we know and think we largely understand?;
  • What new approaches might tackle these persistent inequalities?

We encourage contributors to establish what we know about ‘what works, for whom, when, where and how’ and to consider the crucial issue of knowledge transfer from research to policy and practice. How might we stop the ‘merry-go-round’ of temporary projects, the vicious circle of ‘so much reform, so little change?’ (Payne, 2009) and start working towards sustainable results? Within the context of the above research questions, authors might consider, for example, what discourses of inequality currently dominate the policy landscape and the language used to frame those discourses; the consequences of developments regarding inequalities for educational practice and how professionals view these developments and tackle inequalities; the experiences of parents and students; and the perspectives of different stakeholders towards dealing with inequality.

We might conceptualise ‘wicked problems’ as having a number of characteristics: normative or ethical plurality (e.g. different world-views); institutional complexity (e.g. the cooperation of numerous stakeholders is required) and ‘scientific insecurity’ (e.g. our knowledge is often fragmented and contested, in so far as causes, remedies, effects and impact are concerned). We invite authors to consider these characteristics, and to explore ways of dealing with them. E.g. regarding the knowledge base: is it effective to combine knowledge from research with professional knowledge (of teachers and government officials) and experiential knowledge from parents and students?

Critically, authors are asked to take a theory-driven approach to consider why educational inequalities still persist, and how new ones potentially come into existence -- despite in some (inter)national contexts decades of legislative and policy frameworks to tackle the issues (e.g. human rights). This in turn necessitates authors re-analysing explanatory frameworks. We ask authors to look at ‘old’ problems with new lenses, to bring innovative, new ways of thinking and conceptualization to the unique challenges that face us at this current juncture. How might we be socially innovative? The field of educational inequality demands new ideas that meet unmet needs. What role could social innovation, with the involvement of stakeholders and an interdisciplinary approach (engaging with scholarship outside our usual contexts) play in bringing about meaningful change?  

In recognition that educational inequalities are prevalent at different levels -locally, nationally and globally - authors are asked to say something about each of these levels, in relation to their chosen focus; for example, we do not want authors to write only about their national context.  Language is also of importance here, for instance the difference between inequality, inequity and injustice and we ask authors to pay attention to this, particularly in relation to the policy arena.

We invite authors from different countries, perspectives and (inter)disciplinary approaches; from compulsory to higher education. We welcome empirical, review, conceptual and theoretical papers. Whilst authors are invited to submit in their field of expertise, we are looking for contributors to theorise beyond a narrow focus and to engage with scholarship outside of their usual contexts.

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Submission Instructions

Abstracts of up to 500 words should be submitted via email to the journal manager, Dr Gemma Banks, no later than 30th June 2021: [email protected]

Selected contributions will be notified by July 31st 2021. Articles of 6000-8000 words will be due by 31st January 2022 and will undergo full peer review as per the journal policy.

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