Peer Relationships at School

New Perspectives on Migration and Diversity


Drawing on research from two UK schools, this book reveals how migration, language, ethnicity, religion and precarity shape youth relationships. Using Buber's model, it analyses 'I-It' and 'I-Thou' interactions, showcasing their power to reshape differences. It offers a pragmatic and hopeful view of the dynamics of diversity in everyday life.

Open access

Available Open Access digitally under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

It is increasingly recognised that ethnonational frameworks are inadequate when examining the complexity of social life in contexts of migration and diversity.

This book draws on ethnographic research in two UK secondary schools, considering the shifting roles of migration status, language, ethnicity, religion and precarity in young people’s peer relationships. The book challenges culturalist understandings of social cohesion, highlighting the divisive impacts of neoliberalism, from pervasive temporariness and domestic abuse to technologization and neighbourhood violence.

Using Martin Buber’s relational model, the book explores the interplay of ‘I-It’ boundary-making with reciprocal ‘I-Thou’ encounters, pointing to the creative power of these encounters to subvert, reimagine, and even transform social difference. The author provides a pragmatic and ultimately hopeful view of the dynamics of diversity in everyday life, offering valuable insights for social policy and practice.

Emma Soye is a researcher at Queen’s University Belfast and Assistant Editor at the Centre for Global Education.

Author/Editor details at time of book publication.