Interest-divergence and the colour of cutbacks: race, recession and the undeclared war on Black children

David Gillborn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Drawing on Critical Race Theory (CRT), and illustrating with examples from the English system, the paper addresses the hidden racist dimension to contemporary education reforms and argues that this is a predictable and recurrent theme at times of economic crisis. Derrick Bell’s concept of ‘interest-convergence’ argues that moments of racial progress are won when White power-holders perceive self-interest in accommodating the demands of minoritized groups; such moments are unusual, and often short-lived. Presently we are witnessing the reverse of this process; a period of pronounced interest-divergence, when White power-holders imagine that a direct advantage will accrue from the further exclusion and oppression of Black groups in society. Behind rhetoric that proclaims the need to improve educational standards for all, and celebrates a commitment to closing the existing achievement gaps, in reality education reforms are being enacted that systematically disadvantage Black students and demonstrably widen educational inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Edge of Race
Subtitle of host publicationCritical examinations of education and race/racism
EditorsKalervo Gulson, Zeus Leonardo, David Gillborn
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781138189102
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

This is hardback book that republishes, as a stand-alone volume, a collection that originally appeared as a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal 'Discourse' (in 2013)


  • race inequality
  • Racism
  • Education
  • education policy
  • assessment
  • critical race theory
  • public examinations


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