Shaping and Informing Public Attitudes Towards Racial and Ethnic Mixing and Mixedness in Britain.
Submitting InstitutionLondon South Bank University
Unit of AssessmentSocial Work and Social Policy
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Sociology
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
Summary of the impact
The research into mixed racial people, couples and families has enhanced
social awareness, corrected misconceptions and celebrated the heritage of
these groups. Impact centres around educating various publics through
channels such as a prime time viewing on BBC2. The research has also
manifested itself in: (i) a successful on-line resource (Mix-d Museum) in
collaboration with the third sector, (ii) materials which have influenced
school curricula, and (iii) training resources for teachers. One
organisation has presented the materials emanating from the research to
over 250 foster carers within a year. The British Academy recognised the
research as an exemplar which contributed to the reintroduction of its
Small Grant scheme.
The key research findings underpinning this case study are drawn from a
body of research derived from three related research projects undertaken
during 2006-2012 and exploring the contemporary and historical experiences
of mixed racial, ethnic and faith families in Britain.
1. Parenting `Mixed' Children: negotiating difference and
belonging in mixed race, ethnicity and faith families,
funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation (£121,846; 2006-8; PI: Rosalind
Edwards (Professor of Social Policy at LSBU until 2010, now Southampton
Drawing on commissioned quantitative analysis of 2001 Census data
(conducted by Darren Smith, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton), the
research demonstrated that mixed racial and ethnic families in Britain are
not only to be found in wide-ranging areas throughout the country but also
contain a strong middle-class profile, thus substantively challenging
existing popular discourse which assumes them to be mainly located in
inner-city, working-class locations (1, 3-5). Through qualitative analysis
with thirty-five couples and case studies of six children and six
grandparents, the research showed that the experiences of mixed racial,
ethnic and faith families can be incredibly diverse and multifaceted,
raising important implications for existing policy and practice
initiatives which often assume a notion of a shared racial, ethnic or
mixed faith experience.
2. The Era of Moral Condemnation: Mixed Race People in Britain,
1920-1950, funded by the British Academy, (£4,958; 2007-8; PI:
Chamion Caballero (Research Fellow, LSBU); Co-Investigator: Dr Peter
Aspinall (Research Fellow, University of Kent).
The research focused on perceptions and experiences of mixed racial and
ethnic people and families in early 20th century Britain. It
uncovered a wealth of archival material which presented a vigorous and
original challenge to existing ideas of the experience of mixed race
people during the time period. The research pointed to an overlooked sense
of everyday `ordinariness' for many people within this group where many of
their assumed difficulties and challenges, such as inherent `marginality'
or `confusion', were non-existent or transitory. Where it identified
issues, these tended to be related to wider social discourses, policies
and practices rather than individual daily lives. The research highlighted
a complex and diverse set of experiences for this group and traced how
many of the stereotypes that still inform perceptions of mixed race groups
today are rooted in the historical constructions (2).
3. `Insiders' or `outsiders'? Lone mothers of children from
mixed racial and ethnic backgrounds, funded by the
Economic and Social Research Council (£99,754, 2009-10: PI: Chamion
Caballero, Senior Research Fellow, LSBU).
This project built on pilot findings (funded by LSBU) to explore the
everyday experiences of lone mothers of children from mixed racial and
ethnic backgrounds in three neighbourhoods in Bristol. The research
generated rich data on the influence of space and place on the experiences
of this group, particularly how the mothers' and children's understandings
of their racialised identities were supported or challenged by social
attitudes towards racial or ethnic mixing in their neighbourhoods (1).
Key findings from the overall body of research challenge existing
conceptualisations of mixed race people, couples and families in the UK,
both in relation to contemporary and historical experiences. In
particular, the work has questioned `static' models that presume the
backgrounds and experiences of those mixing or of mixed race/ethnicity by
highlighting the diversity and complexity of these groups, as well as an
often overlooked `ordinariness' present in their everyday lives.
References to the research
1. Caballero, C., Edwards, R., Goodyer, A., and Okitikpi, T. (2012) The
diversity and complexity of the everyday lives of mixed racial and ethnic
families: Implications for adoption and fostering policy and practice, Adoption
and Fostering, 36(3&4): 9-24
2. Caballero, C. (2012) `Draughtboard Alley' to `Brown Britain': the
ordinariness of mixedness in British life' in Edwards, R., Ali, S.,
Caballero, C and Song, M. (eds.) (2012) International Perspectives on
Racial and Ethnic Mixedness and Mixing, London: Routledge
3. Smith, D., Edwards, R. and Caballero, C. (2011) `The residential
patterns of mixed-ethnicity couples and families in England and Wales:
`hidden' and `emerging' local geographies of contemporary society?', Environment
and Planning A, 43(5): 1455-1476
4. Edwards, R., Caballero, C. and Puthussery, S. (2010) `Parenting
Children From `Mixed' Racial, Ethnic and Faith Backgrounds: Typifications
of Difference and Belonging', Ethnic and Racial Studies, 33(6):
5. Caballero, C., Edwards, R. and Smith, D. (2008) `Cultures of Mixing:
Understanding Partnerships Across Ethnicity' in 21st
Century Society, 3(1), 49-63
Details of the impact
This case study demonstrates how research has (i) enhanced cultural
insights into and understanding of mixed racial and ethnic mixing and
mixedness in Britain, and (ii) had an impact on the social awareness of
and approaches to mixed race populations, through the following channels:
1. Practitioner and Frontline Engagement:
The insights resulting from the three research projects were coalesced
into a permanent web- based resource, the Mix-d Museum (1) funded by the
AHRC (Lead: Caballero, £24k, 2011-12). The site has had 10,000 visits and
over 27,000 page views since its launch in July 2012. Google analytics
shows that 45% of views come from 143 countries (2).
Independent consultants interviewed the founder of Mix-d, a social
enterprise supporting mixed race young people and a partner in the Mix-d
Museum project (3).
He stated that "Caballero's research has benefited the subject and his
organisation immensely". He further commented: "We have drawn
heavily on Caballero's work which not only eliminates American bias,
displaces myths with up to date knowledge and understanding but allows
oral history to be captured and presented in a way that is digestible
and deliverable to various audiences including young people".
During 2012, Mix-d incorporated findings from Caballero's research in
their presentations to and work with over 350 school children and 40-50
teachers, influencing curricula, such as, history and citizenship. The
Founder of Mix-d further indicated that "a good visual representation
helps in finding the correct vocabulary to talk about the subject in
greater detail" in reference specifically to teachers. In 2013,
Mix-d also used Caballero's work in their engagement with 250 foster
carers to help them raise awareness of the potential issues facing mixed
race children and equip them with appropriate understanding and resources.
Educators and students have made extensive use of the Museum. For
example, Whalley Range High School and Stretford Grammar School in
Manchester have incorporated the resource into their curriculum, while
students at Stretford have also produced a highly visible wall mural based
on the Mix-d Museum model to communicate their own understandings of
mixedness and family heritages to other students, teachers, parents and
Other organisations, for example, BAAF (British Association of Adoption
and Fostering), have highlighted how they have drawn on Caballero's
research in their delivery of raising BME issues in adoption and fostering
to social work practitioners and carers. The Director of Research, Policy
and Development at BAAF has recommended that a specific journal article
produced by Caballero should be required reading for social workers (4).
The publication featuring this article has sold over 500 copies in the UK
and further copies were sold at the International Fostering and Adoption
Conference in Bilbao in July 2013.
2. Extensive Media Coverage and Engagement:
In 2010, the BBC approached Caballero to translate her research findings
from Project 2 into a single BBC4 programme. Upon reviewing the depth and
richness of the findings, the BBC decided to produce a three part series
to be aired on prime time BBC2 (Mixed Britannia — was broadcast between
October-November 2012 at 9.00pm). Caballero appeared in and acted as
academic consultant to the series (5,6) which was presented by George
Alaghiah and was well received by the public, gaining the second highest
recorded score (90%) on the BBC's audience satisfaction survey for a
current affairs programme. It also trended on Twitter, attracting positive
comments from viewers, including celebrity viewers such as Boy George
(270,000 followers) (6).
The series received critical acclaim and extensive media coverage as a
result of its challenge of existing perceptions of mixed race people,
couples and families, featuring on Radio 4 (4th
October 2011) and in The Guardian (5th,
9th and 20th October
2011), The Daily Telegraph (5th, 6th
October 2011), The Times (2nd, 7th
October 2011), The Daily Mail (6th October
2011) and The Independent (21st October
2011). The Guardian interviewed Caballero (4th
October 2011) for an article centring on the research and its
role in informing the programmes. Impact from the series continues to
raise social awareness through broadcasts by the BBC World Service.
In October 2011, Caballero provided academic guidance to BBC2 Newsnight
with the content of their special feature on Mixed Race Britain. The
producer commented on Caballero's input to the programme, saying that she
helped shape the programme's research on perceptions of mixed race
families in Britain (7). Newsnight's viewing figures in October 2011
averaged 664,000 per night.
3. Other Examples of Reach:
The British Academy has indicated that the research outcomes from Project
2 were `very valuable in helping to make the case' for the
continuation of its Small Grants Scheme (8). Disbanded in April 2011, the
scheme was restarted in January 2012 with new investment (£1.5 million
over three years) from the Leverhulme Trust. In addition, the project was
highlighted as an exemplar of successful research enabled by the scheme
In February 2013, the Asian American Literary Review commissioned
Caballero to develop information cards for the Review's Special Issue on
Mixed Race (10) as part of their on-line teaching programme to
undergraduates and postgraduate students in 66 universities and colleges
across 9 countries.
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Google Analytics Report on Mix-d Museum web analytics (available on
request from LSBU).
- Independent Consultants (The Innovation Partnership, 2013) interview
of Founder of Mix-d. Contact: Managing Director, The Innovation
- Statement (email) from Director of Policy, Research and Development,
- Statement (email) from BBC producer of Mixed Britannia.
- Statement (email) from BBC producer of Newsnight.
- Statement (email) from Head of Research Awards, British Academy.
- Article in Times Higher Education, January 2011