All in the mix

Race, class and school choice

By Professor Bridget Byrne and Carla De Tona

All in the mix

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9115-5
  • Pages: 192
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: May 2019
  • BIC Category: Education, Multicultural Education, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Schools & pre-schools, Manchester, Ethnic minorities & multicultural studies, EDUCATION / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Discrimination & Race Relations, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General


All in the mix: Race, class and school choice considers how parents choose secondary schools for their children and makes an important intervention into debates on school choice and education. The book examines how parents talk about race, religion and class in the process of choosing. It also explores how parents' own racialised and classed positions, as well as their experience of education, can shape the way they approach choosing schools. Based on in-depth interviews with parents from different class and racialised backgrounds in three areas in and around Manchester, the book shows how discussions about school choice are shaped by the places in which the choices are made. It argues that careful consideration of choosing schools opens up a moment to explore the ways in which people imagine themselves, their children and others in social, relational space.


In examining school choice in Manchester, England, this volume describes many issues that are strangely familiar to education in the US. Authors Byrne (Univ. of Manchester, UK) and de Tona base their study on interviews with parents in Manchester who are made anxious by racial and class issues when deciding to enroll their children in a state-funded school of their choice. School choice for parents is in many cases a mirage (there are no or few choices in many parts of England), but even so, those interviewed negotiate meanings of diversity when considering their choices, opting for a good "mix" that is seldom genuine. For instance, parents will accept racial and ethnic diversity over socioeconomic diversity, and white parents especially see increased numbers of Muslim students as an undesirable form of diversity. In the US, similar agitations exist among white parents towards Muslim, Black, or Hispanic students in their children's schools. Ultimately, this book is less about class and more about the mental gymnastics parents execute in rationalizing anxiety. Byrne and de Tona have added a worthy contribution to studies on education.
--R. P. Lorenzo, Prairie View A&M University


1 Introduction
2 Unequal choosing
3 Imagining places
4 Choice, what choice?
5 Schooling fears
6 Evaluating the mix: negotiating with multiculture
7 Conclusions
Appendix One: Participants


Bridget Byrne is Professor in Sociology at the University of Manchester
Carla De Tona is an independent researcher

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