Research and anti-racism: The case of Peter Foster and his critics

Hammersley, Martyn (1993). Research and anti-racism: The case of Peter Foster and his critics. British Journal of Sociology, 44(3) pp. 429–448.



This paper explores some fundamental methodological issues, in particular about the standards by which research should be judged, that are raised by anti-racist criticism of recent work by Peter Foster on teacher racism in British schools. The nature of the debate surrounding this work is examined, and it is suggested that it derives from fundamental disagreements about the character and purpose of sociological research. Arising from this, the implications of social scientists abandoning a foundationalist epistemology are considered. It is argued that this does not necessarily, and should not, lead us to adopt extreme epistemological alternatives, such as relativism, standpoint theory, or instrumentalism. Instead, a less radical non-foundationalism is defended, and its implications for the dispute between Foster and his critics explored.

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