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)
62 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 statusPublished online - 12 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank Safet Balazhi and Filipina Negrievska for their help with the organisation of interviews in North Macedonia and Professor Ruth Leitch for her assistance with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 British Educational Research Association

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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


Dive into the research topics of 'By law, custom or local atmosphere’: Exploring institutional support in school‐based contact programmes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this