By law, custom or local atmosphere’: Exploring institutional support in school‐based contact programmes

Rebecca Loader, Joanne Hughes, Andrea Furey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Allport’s intergroup contact theory outlines four conditions for effective contact: equal status between participants within the contact situation, cooperation, common goals and institutional support. While the literature indicates that institutional support may be a particularly important condition for effective contact, its role and impact remain under‐researched, particularly in studies of contact within real‐world contexts. This article seeks to address this gap through a study of institutional support within a school‐based contact initiative operating in two countries, Northern Ireland and North Macedonia. Known as ‘shared education’, this promotes inter‐school collaboration as a means of fostering contact between pupils from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. Adopting a qualitative approach and using data collected through interviews with staff involved in four shared education projects, this study explores three aspects: the extent to which shared education demonstrates support for contact; the factors that encourage or impede supportive contact norms; and the relationship between the norms of the school and those of other authorities, particularly parents and the community.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Early online date12 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2020


  • comparative education—research approaches
  • institutional support
  • intercultural education
  • intergroup relations

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