Book Chapter

White privilege, empathy and alterity in higher education : Teaching about race and racism in the sociology of PE and sport


In this chapter we provide a reflexive account on personal experiences teaching in HE in order to consider the extent to which our status as white HE practitioners reinforces and/or undermines white privilege in HE. As lecturers teaching within the discipline of sociology in physical education (PE) and sport contexts, we question whether our delivery of lectures on race and racism effectively challenges racialised discourses and encourages social action within our field. Despite the fact that the undergraduate programmes we work on incorporate lectures on race and ethnicity as a crucial part of the curriculum, these sessions have rarely been delivered by black and minority ethnic (BME) academics. We therefore consider whether our practice can provide a critical pedagogic voice, or if it simply provides a platform for white academics to unconsciously reinforce the institutional whiteness of HE. In particular, we reflect upon the possibility for white academics to empathise with the racialised social experiences of BME students in our cohorts, and the potential risk that our practice simply offers tokenistic discussion of race which reinforce the current forms of inequality and white privilege, whilst violating the alterity of our students.

Attached files


Whigham, Stuart
Hobson, Michael

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work


Year of publication: 2018
Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-09-20

“Copyright © 2018, Hobson & Whigham. Users may view, print, copy, download and text and data-mine the content, for the purposes of academic research, subject always to the full conditions of use. Any further use is subject to permission from Springer Nature.”

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of White privilege, empathy and alterity in higher education - teaching about race and racism in the sociology of PE and sport
This RADAR resource is Part of Dismantling race in higher education: Racism, whiteness and decolonising the academy (ISBN: 9783319602608)


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