Decolonising quantitative methods teaching in UK sociology

Book chapter


Saini, R., Zwiener-Collins, N., Jafri, J. and Poulter, T. Decolonising quantitative methods teaching in UK sociology. in: Bhambra, G., Meghji, A., Tinsley, M. and Papadakis, S. (ed.) Rethinking British Sociology: Postcolonial and Decolonial Transformations Routledge.
Chapter titleDecolonising quantitative methods teaching in UK sociology
AuthorsSaini, R., Zwiener-Collins, N., Jafri, J. and Poulter, T.
Abstract

Drawing on the authors’ experiences of teaching quantitative methods to undergraduates, this chapter develops a theoretically-informed critique of how statistics are taught in the quantitative classrooms of UK Sociology courses. After an account of statistics’ roots in the eugenics movement and the subsequent development of quantitative methods as a branch of social research, the authors take insights from critical theories of race and feminism to outline the ongoing marginalisation of race and racism in the teaching of quantitative methods, and its reproduction of categorical thinking. This marginalisation is enacted through the supposedly neutral values of ‘objectivity’, ‘validity’ and ‘reliability’, and the imperative for ‘representative’ and ‘clean’ data, which has consequences for Sociology students’ understanding of and ability to deconstruct and interpret complex concepts such as race, ethnicity and gender when it comes to the design, collection and analysis of surveys and statistical social data. The racist and colonial underpinnings of quantitative methods teaching have implications beyond the academy. The last part of the chapter discusses the British government’s wilful misinterpretation of data on racial inequality, particularly in relation to ethnic minority deaths from COVID-19. Following an acknowledgement of the difficulties of engaging in transformative pedagogy within the neoliberal academy, the conclusion calls for a reflexive, transgressive and decolonial approach to teaching quantitative methods based on solidarity, social justice, and valuing our students as critical thinkers.

KeywordsDecolonisation; Quantitative Methods
Sustainable Development Goals4 Quality education
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
LanguageEnglish
Book titleRethinking British Sociology: Postcolonial and Decolonial Transformations
EditorsBhambra, G., Meghji, A., Tinsley, M. and Papadakis, S.
PublisherRoutledge
British Sociological Association
SeriesSociological Futures
Publication process dates
Accepted17 Apr 2023
Deposited09 Nov 2023
Output statusAccepted
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