Power, Inequality and Activism (PIA)

Power, Inequality and Activism (PIA) is a research and scholarship group that investigates, critiques and illuminates how knowledge and inequalities create, shape and maintain the world of education and practically responds to and changes this through sharing research evidence, theory and activist resistance.

Currently, PIA’s core interests are as follows:

  • Identifying and conceptualising how inequalities are produced and reproduced via education and the role of educational research and practice in challenging these inequalities.
  • Creating and promoting more equitable and democratic forms of education, locally, nationally, and globally.
  • Enhancing the field's response to equitable education reform and emergent issues facing education.

By education we mean formal (eg schooling), informal and non-formal and the mechanisms and practices that shape these activities.

Through collaboratively revealing and responding to educational inequalities, as a public purpose, PIA aims to break down barriers, improve lives and strengthen the relationship between the University, the city region and local communities.

Current/Indicative examples of PIA research

Current/Indicative examples of PIA research include:

  • Local Matters

    Granted The University of Manchester Humanities Impact Award in 2021, this is a research programme that works alongside school staff to investigate and explore what we know about (child) poverty (locally and nationally), trains participants in social research methods, explores the local poverty context and then applies this knowledge and research skill, through action research, to make changes to school practice and policy. It trains school staff and the school community to be locally embedded social justice researchers. Local Matters works across a range of Local Authorities, Diocese bodies and in partnership with the National Education Union and The Tutor Trust.

  • The PACCT (Pakistani Community Calls to Action) Project

    Focused on educational, social and health care responses to the pandemic. This generated ‘calls to action’ co-produced with marginalised members of the Rochdale Pakistani communities. Its remit extended beyond formal education to consider social and health care, media and local and national policy; and also highlighted how specific (COVID) insults and challenges reactivated and connected with longstanding racialised traumas and alienation. Aimed to be participatory and to help support better service access and recognition of community needs and strengths. For the report, and related ‘calls to action’, see the above link and the PACCTProject Twitter account.

  • Superdiversity and traditional Muslim Healing Practices in Greater Manchester

    This (British Academy-funded) project engages and subverts the local/global binary to analyse practices of minoritized cultural healing practices in the UK. It is framed by an understanding of how migration of peoples has produced fruitful new cultural blends of health and mental health practices. The focus of this project was Hijama (cupping), as one expanding arena; attending to (gendered) diversities of practices; hybrid influences and the transnational relationships involved. For further information please contact erica.burman@manchester.ac.uk or rubina.jasani@manchester.ac.uk.

  • Going beyond the gender binary: conceptualising and operationalising the gender construct for educational (STEM) research

    This recently funded pump priming project proposes to build, validate and implement measurement instrument(s) that better conceptualise and operationalise gender as a social/cultural construct. The aim is to develop this methodology to investigate adolescents’ peer group relations and their role in shaping aspirations and dispositions to study Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. This builds on a body of work by the same team that focuses on students’ affective relationships with mathematics and other STEM subjects and how these are mediated by complex intersectionalities of class, gender, ethnicity and place. See for instance our previous projects - Teleprism and Transmaths.

  • Child as Method International Network Project

    This project is creating a collaborative international research network on Child as Method involving The University of Manchester and universities in Portugal, Brazil, and Finland, as well as elsewhere in the UK. It builds on Erica Burman’s work on Child as Method which draws on post-structuralist and decolonial authors and theories to develop an analytical and empirical approach which analyses images and discourses of childhood and their implications in organising and regulating individuals, groups, institutions and societies. The network brings together global influence, civic engagement, and innovation in research to create a diverse research environment for studies on race and racism, decolonisation, post-colonial studies, gender equality, critical childhood studies, and international education. For further information please contact cassal@manchester.ac.uk or erica.burman@manchester.ac.uk.

Research networks and groups linked to PIA

Research networks and groups linked to PIA:

Our people