Dr Nicola Rollock

dr nicola rollock



The Colour of Class: the educational strategies of the Black middle classes

2014, London & New York: Routledge

Winner of 2nd Prize, Society for Educational Studies Annual Book Awards 2016.

How do race and class intersect to shape the identities and experiences of Black middle-class parents and their children? What are Black middle-class parents’ strategies for supporting their children through school? What role do the educational histories of Black middle-class parents play in their decision-making about their children’s education?

There is now an extensive body of research on the educational strategies of the white middle classes but a silence exists around the emergence of the Black middle classes and their experiences, priorities, and actions in relation to education. This book focuses on middle-class families of Black Caribbean heritage.

Drawing on rich qualitative data from nearly 80 in-depth interviews with Black Caribbean middle-class parents, the internationally renowned contributors reveal how these parents attempt to navigate their children successfully through the school system, and defend them against low expectations and other manifestations of discrimination. Chapters identify when, how and to what extent parents deploy the financial, cultural and social resources available to them as professional, middle class individuals in support of their children’s academic success and emotional well-being. The book sheds light on the complex, and relatively neglected relations, between race, social class and education, and in addition, poses wider questions about the experiences of social mobility, and the intersection of race and class in forming the identity of the parents and their children.

You can order The Colour of Class on the publisher’s website or on Amazon.

Winner of 2nd Prize,  Society for Educational Studies  Annual Book Awards 2016

Winner of 2nd Prize, Society for Educational Studies Annual Book Awards 2016

Stephen Lawrence Inquiry The Runnymede Trust Nicola Rollock

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 10 Years On

2009, London: The Runnymede Trust

In this report, I consider the Government’s progress in meeting the recommendation set out in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry written by Macpherson and his team of advisors. Analysis included secondary analysis of legal, government, academic and wider literature (e.g. Section 95 statistics, HMIC code of conducts, PACE 1984) as well as interviewing and collating evidence from specialists.

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 10 Years On (SLIR) was debated in Parliament with the Government accepting three of the five recommendations to advance race equality in the criminal justice system.

Read the full report here.

Read (then) Home Secretary Alan Johnson’s statement in Parliament about this and other select reports about the Inquiry which were published in 2009.

The Government also published a Written Ministerial Response setting out its views on each of the SLIR recommendations. The response is available on the Runnymede Trust website.


"The Colour of Class closes a major gap in research on classed-based parenting and educational inequality by putting the spotlight on the intersection of race and class. This well-written and dynamic book will be enthusiastically welcomed by researchers and graduate students in the field of educational inequalities, minority schooling, and anti-oppressive education."

/  Max Anthony Newman, London Review of Education /


Press Articles, Academic Journals & Papers

Editor-in-Chief of the journal Whiteness and Education, Published by Taylor & Francis

Whiteness and Education publishes thought-provoking, original manuscripts that advance critical understandings of the construction and deployment of Whiteness in educational contexts. This includes, but not limited to, critical discussions of White racism, White identity, privilege, power and intersectionality. To read more or to submit to Whiteness and Education click here

Rollock, N. (2015) Why is it so hard to talk about race in UK universities?, The Conversation, 9 February  

This article was written in response to the launch, in February 2015, of Runnymede’s Aiming Higher report which looks at race and diversity in higher education. In my piece for The Conversation, I argue that universities – despite their liberal ideals – fail to engage honestly and openly with race and discuss the reasons for this.

Rollock, N. (2014) Race, Class and the ‘Harmony of Dispositions’, Sociology, 48 (3), pp445-451

This was an invited paper written in response to academic research on the Great British Class Survey. In it, I argue that it is impossible to consider social class independently of race and gender and often when white people talk about social class, they do so without explicitly taking account of white identity.

Rollock 2014 Harmony of Dispositions Sociology

Rollock, N. (2013) A political investment: revisiting race and racism in the research process. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 34 (4), pp492-509

In this article, I consider the role of race in shaping the development and methodology of the Black middle classes project. In particular, I consider the implications of being a Black researcher working with three white researchers and the possible implications of this on our engagement with the data and connection with the research respondents.

Rollock 2013 A Political Investment Discourse

Rollock, N., Vincent, C., Ball, S. & Gillborn, D. (2013) ‘Middle class by profession’: Class status and identification amongst the Black middle classes. Ethnicities, 13(3), pp253-275

This article explores how Black Caribbean heritage professionals feel about being middle class. The majority feel uncomfortable, hesitant and ambivalent about their class position arguing that ‘middle class’ carries with it notions of whiteness, individuality and privilege with which they do not wish to be associated. Others argue that to be middle class is to make judgements about the Black working classes and they therefore strive to downplay their middle class identity given that this would mean rejecting or denigrating parents, friends or family members who are working class.

Rollock et al 2013 Middle Class by Profession – Ethnicities

Rollock, N. (2012) The Invisibility of race: Intersectional reflections on the liminal space of alterity. Special issue: Critical race theory in England, Race Ethnicity & Education, 15 (1), pp 65-84

This paper brings together empirical research and storytelling (counter narrative) to consider how race, gender and social class intersect or work in relation to each other within the education system. Drawing on literature charting the experiences of faculty of colour working in the academy, I make the argument that Black people make use of particular rules (often unnamed and unspoken) to help them survive in mainly white spaces.  However, while important, these rules do not always guarantee success.

Rollock 2012 Invisibility of Race – Race Ethnicity & Education

Rollock, N. (2011) Unspoken rules of engagement: navigating racial microaggressions in the academic terrain. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 25 (5), pp 517-532

Racial microaggressions are slight but common slights, put-downs, looks or gestures that serve to demean people of colour and let them know that they are different, not accepted or inferior to white people. Little has been written about the phenomena in the UK context. This article uses counternarrative to explore racial microaggressions in the academy and examines how a fictional incident could be better handled if all parties had genuine awareness of and commitment to race equality.

Rollock 2011 Unspoken Rules of Engagement – QSE

Rollock, N., Gillborn, D., Ball, S. & Vincent, C. (2011) The Public Identities of the Black middle classes: managing race in public spaces. Sociology, 45 (6), pp1078-1093

Drawing on the work of US scholar Karen Lacy, this paper examines how Black middle class respondents make use of their class resources to manage and attempt to minimise the likelihood of racism.

Rollock et al 2011 Public Identities of the Black middle classes – Sociology

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