Race, power and resistance : a study of the Institute of Race Relations, 1952-1972
This is a study of the radical changes that occurred at the London-based Institute of Race Relations and is thus historically focussed on the period from 1969-1972. Although an attempt is made to trace the history of the Institute from 1950 onwards and indeed account for and explain the so-called ‘palace revolution' that occurred during 1972, the major theoretical focus of this study stems from an interest in two questions: why and how did resistance emerge at the Institute? What are its implications for a more general theory of resistance? It is suggested here that an understanding of what happened cannot be fully achieved without locating the events within, firstly, the broader historical and political framework of the development of black resistance, and, secondly in a sociological tradition concerned in particular with explaining social change, conflict, power, and approaches to the understanding of race relations situations. Given this framework which is developed more fully in Chapter Two it is suggested that the resistance which occurred evolved as a result of the combination of a number of discernable social conditions or factors. Firstly, the governing body, seen here as 'ideologists' in the Mannheimian sense of the term, consciously attempted to protect certain interests, values and beliefs, irrespective of the wider changes that were taking place during the late 1960s in the field of race research, policy, and practice. Their total insistence on this, which incorporated a specific conception of social reality, gave rise, secondly, to a sense, amongst sections of the staff, of controlled domination and oppression. This however could not be articulated by the staff, or 'Utopians', until, thirdly, social space had been created in order, fourthly, to allow for the development of consciousness, and, fifthly, the construction of an alternative, Utopian, approach to race relations in which was subsumed a radically different conception of social reality. When, sixthly, this in turn was rigorously suppressed, and when, seventhly, the Utopians saw in this and subsequent actions a real threat to their whole existence and identity as meaningful and relevant workers, they consciously organised resistance Although the ultimate success of their resistance depended upon a number of variables, including that of how effectively they could project their alternative approach, conception of reality and role for a radically restructured Institute, the dialectical and sociological quality of their resistance remained constant: it arose within a conflict situation and as a result of a profound clash between two socially organised and competing conceptions of the nature of social reality and the place or role of the Institute within that reality. Through the process of constructing 'instrume power’, resistance was consciously organised and employed politicall to obtain 'property power', which entailed not only the eventual overthrow of the IRR Council but also the absolute rejection of the social sources on which its authority was based. From this explanation a systematic attempt is made in the concluding chapter to unpackage and reorder these and other conditions, factors, and/or relations in order to formulate the prepositional basis for a dialectical theory of resistance.