Race policy and politics: two case studies from Britain

Murji, Karim (2011). Race policy and politics: two case studies from Britain. Policy Studies, 32(6) pp. 585–598.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01442872.2011.601210


This article considers academic engagements with policy and politics and, inparticular, race and racism through two case studies. Contextualising such engagements within wide ranging debates about the relationship between academics, research, and policy and politics, two dimensions are utilised to analyse the examples presented. These are, firstly, the inside/outside (the location and extent of academic engagement) and, secondly, the link between knowledge and politics. These are applied to two examples or cases from the UK, both of which concern racism and the police. The first was a public inquiry in which the idea of institutional racism was powerfully resurrected; the second was an employment tribunal alleging racial discrimination � so the same idea may have been expected to be raised but was not. In part the abstract is concerned with this striking difference between the cases. In the two cases the author has been equivalent to an ‘observer’ and a ‘participant’, and the article sets out some dilemmas for academics when acting in public roles or arenas. The main argument is that in spite of the tenuousness of the dichotomies between theory/practice and observation/participation, as well as the ones between insider/outsider roles and instrumental and critical knowledge, they can all be significant in terms of how politics plays out and policy is fashioned.

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