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London Metropolitan University

Liberating your research: Research theories

Liberating your research

Research theories

De-Centering Whiteness
Whiteness is not to do with an individual’s discrimination, but refers to the white identity being seen as the standard of what is normal and privileged within society. It not only leads to marginalisation and ‘othering’ but also leads to dehumanising of people who are not white. All this hangs on the colour of a person’s skin (Rubin and McAfee, 2021).
WEIRD can be used to de-centre your research when developing and analysing your literature review. Hunt and Reigelman (2021) suggest you consider:
  • Look at the authors. Who are they? What are their affiliations? What are their  backgrounds?
  • Who commissioned the research? Are these organisations or individuals giving financial support to the work?
  • Use the WEIRD acronym (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic) to help you analyse the client groups that were being studied. How many of the WEIRD checks can you find in the research?
Watch Video
The Hidden Biases in WEIRD Psychology Research
Duration: 4:38
User: n/a - Added: 26/10/17
Watch Video
What Is The Cost of Centering Whiteness?
Duration: 7:04
User: n/a - Added: 14/08/20

Look out for research that is colour-blind. Colour-blindness is racism that protects white privilege and uses strategies to justify racial inequalities. In other words, it distances white people from blame or responsibility while placing it all on the shoulders of people of colour (Bonilla-Silva, 2017). Is the research you are reviewing racist? Is the research perpetuating the blame of the client group for their lack of position, their ills, within the institution or society?
Unconscious bias
Unconscious bias can affect all of us. It is not just applied to colonial attitudes, colonisation but also applied to the marginalisation embedded in institutions, values, cultures, societies. We are all exposed to, and can create blind spots. Unconscious bias make us not as inclusive as we should be (TEDx Talks, 2013). Being aware of your own unconscious biases can help you to monitor and improve any hidden attitudes that could influence your analysis or understanding of research. Any change, no matter how minor, can be helpful. Think inclusively. Remember, no research is absolutely neutral (Frith, 2015). 

         Source: Kévin Dorg
Frameworks and Approaches
Anti-racist approach
This is the theory and practice of opposing and actively dismantling social, cultural and structural instances of racism. Its focus is on Equity, Justice, Inclusion, Voice, Respect and Wellbeing (National Education Union (NEU), 2020).
Look for research that uses this approach or use this approach to critically analyse research you have found.
Critical Race Theory (CRT)
Focuses on ‘acknowledging racism as endemic to society, deconstructing problematic analyses of race, and the legitimacy of recognising the personal experiences and narratives of racial and ethnic minorities. This framework is 'fundamental to the deconstruction of race-related inequalities and injustice’ (Campbell, 2017, p. 52).
‘CRT allows us the opportunity for new starts that do not deny the past but rather work to create a new narrative for carrying out
our …’ research topics with the ‘… values of the dignity and worth of persons and the importance of human relationships’ (Campbell, 2017, p. 52). CRT empowers the voices of the marginalised.
Watch Video
WATCH: What is critical race theory?
Duration: 2:51
User: n/a - Added: 29/06/21
Intersectionality framework
Kimberlé Crenshaw (TED Women, 2016),  spearheaded the work on CRT and Intersectionality. The framework allows you to view your client group or population through the lenses of race, socioeconomic status, gender, gender identity, class, age, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, spirituality, immigration/refugee status, language and education. It enables you to ask hard questions about social inequalities and oppression (Bernard, 2020).
Watch Video
Kimberlé Crenshaw: What is Intersectionality?
Duration: 1:55
User: n/a - Added: 22/06/18

Cited references

Bernard, C. (2020) ‘Why intersectionality matters for social work practice in adult services’ Social work with adults blog, 31 January. Available at: (Accessed: 17 March 2023).

Bonilla-Silva, E. (2017) Racism without racists: color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America. 5th edn. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Campbell, E. (2017) ‘Critical race theory: a content analysis of the social work literature’, Journal of Sociological Research, 9(1), pp. 50-50. doi: 10.5296/jsr.v9i1.11965.

Frith, U. (2015) Unconscious bias. Available at: (Accessed: 17 March 2023).

Hunt, S. and Riegelman, A. (2021) Conducting research through an anti-racism lens [University of Minnesota Libraries guide]. Available at: (Accessed: 30 September 2021).

National Education Union (NEU) (2020) Framework for developing an Anti-racist approach. Available at: (Accessed: 2 March 2022).

Rubin, V. and McAfee, M. (2021) ‘Decentering Whiteness: Building for the Movement Tasks Ahead’, Non Profit Quarterly, September 9. (Available at: (Accessed: 20 November 2021).

TED Women (2016) The urgency of intersectionality; Kimberlé Crenshaw. October. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2021).

TEDx Talks (2013) Inclusion, exclusion, illusion and collusion: Helen Turnbull at TEDxDelrayBeach. 18 September. Available at: (Accessed: 2 March 2022).