Advocacy Research on Homophobia in Education: Claims-Making, Trauma Construction and the Politics of Evidence

Mark McCormack

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Sociology has an ambivalent relationship with advocacy research because the benefits of participation and engagement must be balanced with concerns about bias. The current study uses ten recent research reports on homophobic bullying in British educational settings, written and funded by campaigning charities, as a case study of contemporary advocacy research. Presenting a sociological analysis of these documents and adopting a social problems approach, claims-making processes in the reports are documented and significant methodological and analytical flaws are identified. Instead of objective research, these reports are campaigning documents that seek to gain media coverage and influence policy. Implications for how the reports should be used as resources for research and social policy are examined, and a more nuanced and sophisticated approach to engaging with advocacy research is called for.

© 2019, The Author(s). This is an author produced version of a paper published in SOCIOLOGY uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-106
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • LGBT
  • advocacy
  • charities
  • education
  • homophobia
  • sexualities
  • social problems
  • trauma construction

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