Changing the narrative on race and racism: The Sewell report and culture wars in the UK

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


The murder of George Floyd by police officers in the US in 2020 reignited the Black Lives Matter movement and reverberated across the world. In the UK, many young people demonstrated their determination to resist structural racism and some organisations subsequently acknowledged the need to take action to promote race equality and reflect upon their historical role in colonialism and slavery. At the same time, resistance to these challenges mounted, with right-wing news media and the UK government initiating culture wars to disparage attempts to combat structural racism and decolonise the curriculum. This article argues that the campaign to discredit anti-racism culminated in 2021 in the production of the first major report on race for over 20 years, a report chaired by Tony Sewell and commissioned by the government. Drawing on critical discourse analysis, the author deconstructs this report. Far from making a balanced evidence-based contribution to a national conversation about race, as its proponents claim, it is argued that the report draws upon many right-wing tropes and in the process comprises a further weapon in the culture wars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalAdvances in Applied Sociology
Issue number8
Early online date24 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2021


  • Equality, political correctness, institutional racism, culture wars


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