An official A-level economics textbook has sparked criticism after campaigners claimed it legitimised racist practices in the workplace.
A section in the book, written by Steve Stoddard and David Horner and published in 2016, examines the economic conditions in the labour market.
In a list of possible economic advantages to wage discrimination, the text states that it “may be beneficial to some firms if their consumers are racially prejudiced”.
The section was spotted by an 18-year-old student, Ryan Bogle, from Brighton. He posted an image and wrote on Twitter: “Read the second bullet point. I am done with this subject. @AQA legitimising racism because a firm’s customers might be racist too. Disgusting.”
AQA, the exam board, have made clear to HuffPost that, although the textbook is to be used with their course, they have no involvement in the contents. A spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “This isn’t from any AQA-approved textbook, so we didn’t have had any role in its production. We do always pass on concerns like this to the relevant publisher though.”
Speaking to HuffPost UK, the student who posted the passage on social media, called for an apology to be issued to the black and minority ethnic communities.
“I was appalled to see the normalisation of race-based wage discrimination too. Notions like this shouldn’t even be given any kind of platform or credibility,” he said.
An additional statement published on the Hodder Education website by the textbook’s authors said: “These are economic points, not moral ones, as to why a company might seek to engage in wage discrimination. Discrimination happens in the real world, leading to groups of workers having their marginal revenue product (linked to their perceived productivity) either over or undervalued.
“The A-level course requires that students consider the impact of gender, ethnicity and other forms of discrimination on wages, levels and types of employment.
“Real-world examples should be used and students should be able to assess the advantages and disadvantages of wage discrimination for workers, employers and the economy as a whole.”
Jonathan Portes, an economics professor at Kings College University, described the text as being “well below any acceptable standard”.
“If this really is an A-level econ textbook, it’s disgraceful. Truly *terrible* economics, and a horrible disservice to young people if we’re teaching them that this is what economics says,” he tweeted.
But the section has ignited debate. Some argued the textbook was simply stating an uncomfortable reality of the corporate world.
One person, who uses the handle @ibizahat, wrote: “Well they’re highlighting a truth that is abhorrent, but does that mean they shouldn’t? Isn’t this what education is about? Surely it’s the firms who are capitalising and legitimising. [The textbook] highlighted something important and now we can work with that.”
Another, Dr Elsa Oommen, said: “How can this be in a textbook? And how is this still approved curriculum?”
A spokesperson from Hodder Education, the book’s publisher, told HuffPost UK: “The section in My Revision Notes: AQA A-level Economics, published Nov 2016, is a brief summary of possible economic scenarios that could be viewed as an advantage by some.
“We, and our authors, are in no way supporting the point expressed in bullet 2 that has been highlighted in a recent Tweet. The content is included as an example of an economic possibility that students will critique and debate.”
In October 2018, Hodder Education announced that it will begin working on a brand new edition of one of its GCSE sociology textbooks that faced a backlash for its offensive statements about ethnic minority groups.
The publication carried negative descriptions of Caribbean, Chinese and African families; in addition to working class students.
Copies of the book were pulled from shelves after a series of HuffPost UK reports were published outlining the numerous passages.
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article did not make clear enough that AQA had no involvement or connection with the contents of the textbook. HuffPost UK are happy to clarify that, and have added a further response from the AQA spokesperson to this article.