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

Rebecca Loader, Joanne Hughes, Andrea Furey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


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
Pages (from-to)1044-1063
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number5
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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