Journal article

Irish post-primary students' attitudes towards ethnic minorities

The changing ethnic make-up of Irish society has impacted upon schools. Existing, largely qualitative studies have highlighted mixed attitudes towards ethnic minorities. Literature has also focused on the role of the state in articulating a discourse that shapes school-level responses to minorities. This paper critiques the idea of a unitary state discourse and the role of other educational bodies, such as schools, in drawing upon a range of alternate public discourses to shape how they act, is identified. Drawing upon a large quantitative study involving 4970 post-primary pupil respondents, this paper finds that many Irish post-primary students report low levels of social distance from Black African Immigrants, Muslims and Eastern Europeans. Negative attitudes are most prevalent with respect to members of the Travelling community. The potential positive impact of school-level programmes – such as those related to global justice and inequalities – is identified through the lower levels of negative attitudes towards ethnic minorities reported by Transition Year students who have experienced such programmes.

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