Notes on: Jogie, M. (2022) Critical Race Theory
and Higher Education Research: In the Shadow of
Bricolage. Theory and Method in Higher
Education Research. 7 .
[Lots of material I hadn't encountered before --
I've included the references that look most
CRT has been widely denounced by US and UK
politicians but it has also been used as a
framework for research. The point is to offer a
decent criticism. One issue is 'its origin as a
troubled bricolage of conveniently assembled
"tenets"' (1) which do not fit well with
'evidentiary production' required in HE research.
It might serve better as an explanatory theory.
A bricoleur is someone who mixes materials into an
artisan project and it can also be used to
describe methodology [see Levi-Strauss].
CRT is bricolage with different origins. In the
USA and South Africa it has arisen from relatively
recent segregation, but in the UK and Europe, it
is linked more to social progress, colonialism and
modernity. In the global South, racism, Western
pathology 'since it carries a Heideggerian "will –
to – ignorance"' excluding local knowledge.
In different contexts, racism took different
emphases. In segregationism it appeared as a dogma
referring to '"congenital inferiority"' [citing
Benedict], almost as a biological matter and this
led to a notion of black power against
non-blackness, including 'diaspora unification'
(2). The whole biological argument was much
reduced by the work on DNA, and critiques of
statistical arguments about bell curves. However,
there is still some controversy about 'ontological
concessions to race'. Feminists see it as the
responsibility of the patriarchy [hooks], Marxists
as related to modes of production [Cole is the only
one cited who I recognised].
Omi and Winant proposed '"racial formation
theory"' (RFT) as a process whereby racial
categories were determined by social economic and
political forces, and race became master category.
This is still popular with Americans because they
prefer 'meso level analyses that do not get
trapped in socio-politics and structure agency
problem [sic]' (3) [and it has been substantially
ripped off by Meghji].
Racism is still under theorised. Bonilla Silva
develops from RFT and sees racism as 'the system
of forces' which generates 'stereotypes prejudices
and discrimination'. Feagin (2006) develops
'systemic racism theory' which talks about 'an
intractable "white racial frame"… A central
component of "whiteness" that is more sociological
in nature than political' and again this informed
American theorisation particularly
Feagin, J. R.
(2006). Systemic racism: A theory of oppression.
Feagin, J. R. (2013). The
white racial frame: Centuries of racial framing
and counter-framing (2nd ed.). London:
Feagin, J. R., & Hernan,
V. (2000). White racism: The basics: Routledge
Cultural studies in the UK and poststructuralism
in Europe expressed dissatisfaction with Marxist
scholarship and Hall gathered ideas about race
ethnicity and nation as matters of 'culture' and
cultural identity, as a matter of '"positioning"'
[but see this Hall]:
those had to be theorised first.
Poststructuralists outlined ambiguities in the
foundational theories and 'spawned an anthology of
discrete works, rather ambiguously known as "race
critical" theories (Appiah, 1993; Goldberg, 1990;
Miles and Brown, 2003) [all new to me]. Goldberg
apparently draws on Foucault and and 'ahistoricist
approach to power', and Bauman on modernity
as 'chaotically ambivalent and uncertain'. This
leaves race as 'an impossible box to check, being
eminently contingent on political and moral orders
of discourse' (4). [Which will chime nicely with
transracialism at the everyday level].
Appiah, A. (1993).
In my father's house: Africa in the philosophy
of culture: OUP USA.
Goldberg David, T. (1993).
Racist Culture: Philosophy and the Politics of
Meaning. Oxford: Blackwell, Oxford.
Goldberg, D. T. (1990).
Anatomy of Racism: ERIC.
Miles, R., & Brown, M.
(2003). Racism (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.
At the more radical practical level, there have
been large-scale movements like BLM and Rhodes
Must Fall. Marxism has tried to regain ground, and
Hall's culturalism has led to new notions of
multiculturalism. Meanwhile '"race critical"
ideologies have been taken to their natural limits
by prominent scholars advocating for a post race
Gilroy cautions against easy re-articulation into
democratic forms and sees race as a necessarily
permanent subject of critique. Sociologists and
activists have continued to disagree on how to
make the concepts 'coherent, consistent and
complete' ( Golash-Boza, 2016; Winant, 2000)' (5).
It can be explained in terms of the paradoxes
'between social cohesion, culture and individual
agency within the structure – agency problem'
which in turn leads to 'the balance between
implicit agreement and explicit coercion in the
hegemonic power struggles that are contextualised
by race and racism'. Activism oriented scholars in
particular have invested in 'the bricolage
approach of CRT' to support their campaign's while
social theorists 'continue to investigate and
trial alternative paradigms for these paradoxes'.
(2016). A critical and comprehensive
sociological theory of race and racism.Sociology of Race and Ethnicity,
Winant, H. (2000). Race and
race theory. Annual review of sociology, 26(1),
CRT can be compared with a 'type I (propositional)
theory, in the semantic scheme of Abend (2008)'.
This means that the theories have been
'constructed using a set of assumptions considered
to be tautologically "true"' with logical
connections between 'variables and parameters'.
They are threatened if assumptions can't be
vindicated by empirical investigation or if
deductive logic is flawed. This is common when
social theory encounters structure-agency
paradoxes, especially with notions of causality
which allegedly connect 'society, culture, agency
is one reference here]. We are left with
'overlapping or competing for clarity'.
Abend, G. (2008).
The meaning of ‘theory’. Sociological Theory,
CRT is more like a Type 2 theory that 'attempts to
explain a phenomenon by "identifying [ing] a
number of 'factors' or 'conditions', which
individually should pass some sort of
counterfactual test for causal relevance and whose
interaction effects should somehow
[emphasis added] be taken into account' (6). The
term somehow means that there is no necessary
capacity of full logical consistency or
completeness: 'the empirical value of theory lies
formidably in the balance between its explanatory
power and predictive power'. The more relevant
factors it contains, the greater the explanatory
power and the better the factors are weighted and
linked, the more predictive power, if explanatory
power is to be sought, type II theories can be
CRT tries to explain race and racism together
using 'tenets' which have grown in number and
scope especially in HE research, and not all
authors recognise the same list. Context seems
important. There is an overlap with 'isolated
concepts' from type I theories. This produces 'a
higher degree of explanatory power but a lower
degree of predictive power' than alternatives.
There are similarities between type I theorists
and CRT through the commitment to explaining
rather than predicting [Bonilla Silva is one
example. The tenets 'align to different activists
and sociologists agendas'.
Racial realism is 'the most fundamental to
CRT', associated with Derek Bell, who argues that
racism is at the centre of the real lives of black
people, inevitable however it is constructed,
which has led to the implication that 'racism is
institutionalised and must be understood in its
historical context (Gillborn 2015
; Warmington 2019)'. Racial categories are
preserved in 'practice discourse and thoughts',
implicitly. We no longer need to worry about the
metaphysics and can get straight on with
discussions about segregation and marginalisation.
However this leaves us with an 'unassailable and
dogmatic epistemological basis' which has led to
criticism including 'its exclusion of an idealist
or cultural component (Crenshaw 2010)' (7). Other
tenets have been adopted partly to ameliorate
(2019). Critical race theory in England: Impact
and opposition. Identities, 27(1), 20-37
Critique of liberalism supports racial
realism. It can take the form of a critique of
meritocracy and equal access to opportunities, or
colourblind approaches, which can themselves be
seen as ideological. There is work in HE on 'the
training of teachers to develop "politically
correct shields" (Lander, 2014)', opting for
neutrality rather than discussing race. There is
also '"colourism"' which favours people of mixed
race heritage if they have white parents — the
claim is that they are 'inherently advantaged'
[extraordinary references here]. Liberals might
respond that this sort of argument brings about
'"equality fatigue"' as seen in reactions like All
Lives Matter, or the arguments that society has
become '"post race"' (8). There is 'some normative
vision of justice (Rawls, 2001, Sen, 1987)'
implied in these debates.
Lander, V. (2014).
Initial Teacher Education: The Practice of
Whiteness. In R. Race & V. Lander (Eds.),Advancing race and ethnicity in
education (pp. 93-110). UK: Palgrave Macmillan
based on reworking of historiography and memories
studies and 'transitional justices'. Ethnographic
methods are used and have been expanded to take in
all sorts of family histories, parables,
testimonials and the rest [Solorzano and Bernal
2001)'. This has led to counter story, first
inaugurated as a first person singular voice in
black literature, now seen as a privileged
approach to research countering neutral or
objective epistemologies. However, CRT has also
adopted methods such as 'allegory and composition'
which is seen as less rigourous and have flirted
with 'a completely deconstructive approach',
attracting the reservations even of Ladson
Billings (2005) [there is also a mention of
Richardson and the problems of evaluation and
judgement in auto ethnography]. Counter stories
still important in understanding 'faculty
apartheid (Bernal and Villalpando, 2002, and
racial micro-aggressions (Linder, Harris, Allen
and Hubain, 2015)'
Rawls, J. (2001). Justice as
fairness: A restatement (E. Kelly Ed.).
Cambridge, Massachusetts: HarvardUniversity
Sen, A. (1987). Commodities
and Capabilities. New Delhi: Oxford University
Bernal, D. D.,
& Villalpando, O. (2002). An apartheid of
knowledge in academia: The struggle over the"
legitimate" knowledge of faculty of color.
Equity & Excellence in Education, 35(2),
Linder, C., Harris, J. C.,
Allen, E. L., & Hubain, B. (2015). Building
inclusive pedagogy: Recommendations from a
national study of students of color in higher
education and student affairs graduate programs.
Equity & Excellence in Education, 48(2),
Intersectionality, the experience of
unique groups cutting across the usual social
groupings. Introduced by Crenshaw, but usually
represented 'in the philosophically dilute form'
[I am not sure I have understood this -- there
seems to be a problem with multiple oppressions
and trying to understand them in terms of the
discrete source identities]. An analysis of trans
students in racialised HEIs [Stewart andNicolazzo
2018] found that the students were oppressed
through tacit exclusion rather than
marginalisation and that an emphasis on
multiplicity can fail when applied to liberalism.
It also depends on 'oppressive forces being
epistemologically recognisable' (9). Perhaps the
true power of intersectionality can be seen in
'the paradox in game theory, the prisoner's
dilemma': — policies aimed at single marginalised
group can also favour majority members like white
ones and therefore exclude black ones. This would
be a good case to apply notions of
& Nicolazzo, Z. (2018). High impact of
[whiteness] on trans* students in postsecondary
education. Equity & Excellence in Education,
CRT talks about hegemonic projects which is a
particular problem for activists because it
changes form in different power struggles.
Activists also often 'tend to take a "lesser of
evils" approach to dealing with hegemony'. CRT has
an advantage here in that does not pick particular
sides but opposes all racialising hegemonic
projects. However, the two tenets referring most
to hegemony are rooted in 'post-Marxism and the
work of Antonio Gramsci' (10). Interest
convergence is based especially on the Supreme
Court decision on segregation which preserved
white democracy against communism, and and other
examples in HE which practice tokenism.
The second hegemonic project is the idea of
'"whiteness as ideology"'. This overlaps with
Feagin ( 2103) and 'the "white racial frame"' and
was understood first as '"white supremacy"' and,
later, '"whiteness as property"'. This tenet was
applied especially to education by Ladson Billings
and Tate (1995). Gillborn retained the notion 'for
dramatic effect but tailored its meaning to
reference the unintentional political norms
carried through whiteness as being mainstream and
embedded in educational policy-making' (10). DiAngelo added
'white fragility'as a way of avoiding discussions
of racism and that is now been incorporated as a
way of the need to call out racism. One offshoot
has been 'Critical Whiteness Studies' (Leonardo,
2009) and 'a reflexive methodology for higher
education research ( Corces-Zimmerman and Guida
(2009). Race, whiteness, and education:
Corces-Zimmerman, C., &
Guida, T. F. (2019). Toward a critical whiteness
methodology: Challengingwhiteness through
qualitative research. In Theory and method in
higher education research: Emerald Publishing
However, not all forms of conflict and
discrimination involve 'obvious interactions with
some form of hegemonic infrastructure that can be
accessed by marginalised groups'. This is like the
idea of '"subaltern" classes' who have been
excluded and denied but have not come to full
awareness of the injustice. Hence the commitment
to social justice and the all round activism and
The theoretical 'de facto lack of hygiene' (11)
has made CRT an easy target for criticism,
especially in the UK [Hayes, 2013, and Parsons
2016], and even American scholars have preferred
type I theories. However, it might find a place in
other bricolage type theories including those 'in
the organisational design and function of HEIs'.
Hayes, D. (2013).
Teaching students to think racially. Retrieved
Parsons, C. (2016).
Ethnicity, gender, deprivation and low
educational attainment in England:political
arithmetic, ideological stances and the
deficient society. Education, Citizenship and
Social Justice, 11(2), 160-183.
It might help focus on regulatory structures and
opposition to '"white governmentality"', policies
which other racialised citizens, say by adopting
'globalised forces through policy borrowing'. Ball
has always argued that educational policy-making
is a process of bricolage, ramshackle policies,
compromise and so on [presumably the
micro-politics book]. This makes it unlikely to
pursue equality reliably. Bell has also argued
that the US judicial system can do no other than
reproduce racism because there is no meaningful
way to put black rights at the centre of it. It is
doubtful that HEIs will ever be able to set a
deracialising agenda in accordance even with
Ball, S. J. (1998).
Big policies/small world: An introduction to
international perspectives in education policy.
Comparative education, 34(2), 119-130.
Even when policies are formed, they get
'integrated within the HEI organisational culture'
in unpredictable ways (12). Policy regimes differ
as to organisational cultures. We might even think
of them in Deleuzian terms as an assemblage of
unstable relations and possibilities [!]. We might
use the notion of intersectionality here at least
in its improved game theoretic form for exposing
these 'systematic distortions' in apparently
simple organisational truths. (12). There is
always organisational improvisation, 'an agentic
bricolage that is performative, goal oriented and
strategic'. For example, uplifting 'excellence,
egalitarianism, efficiency' may have the effect of
subduing and deconstructing 'racialised
experiences of students and staff'. Counter
stories would help break through any apparent
'common knowledge' [and expose, I think,
experiences that appear to be 'simultaneously
gendered and racialised'].
Racialised ideologies also have 'distinct genetic
make-ups… Mutually exclusive "orientations" with
respect to their underlying policy frameworks'
(13) [not sure I understand this again — something
to do with equilibria being achieved in ideology
despite this complexity?] Gramsci apparently
recognised this in his work on power and hegemony
and Hebdige has argued that 'similar
dynamics apply to expressions of race, ethnicity
and nationality as a whole'. What results is a
series of expressions that get 'merged and
assimilated into our identities via a bricolage
style series of cumulative and recursive social
These practices allow different normative
dimensions of hegemony to manifest themselves
through change. CRT gets to this by addressing
hegemonic instability and re-stability under the
tenets of interest convergence and whiteness as
ideology [not very well — it's as simple
reproduction argument really]. Others have pointed
to other dimensions — 'Nimako (2016) explains that
there is an epistemological components of
racialization in universities that reinforces the
exclusion of minority knowledges, over and above
hegemonic exclusion of minority ethnic identity'.
Only a wide commitment to social justice can
expose these [is this the old epistemic violence
Nimako, K. (2016).
About Them, But Without Them Race and Ethnic
Studies Relations in Dutch Universities. In R.
Grosfoguel, R. Hernández, & E. R. Velásquez
(Eds.), Decolonizing the Westernized university:
Interventions in philosophy of education from
within and without (pp. 17-26). Lanham:
CRT has found its niche and its bricolage style
has not prevented this. Others also have a
bricolage style — critical pedagogy, postcolonial
studies and other frameworks addressing
marginalised groups, including the offshoots of
CRT. Alternatives trying to systematise and go
back to type I theories are still difficult,
'likely to be redundant'(14). Better to try and
stabilise it, to break the tenets to allow for
'specific dimensions equality orientations and
hegemonic projects'. There is also a need to
develop the right balance of tenets in other
states. In the USA there is already a
'neo-pragmatist framing of sociology' which is a
natural fit for bricolage. CRT might wish to
commit itself more to the approach offered by
Critical Realism so that it can achieve some
integration 'with the core issues of gender, class
and culture relevant to the socialisation of
higher education' (14).