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FINAL PAPER – THEORIST DINNER PARTY*
Your paper should be a proofread, revised essay, not a first/rough draft. It should also be your own, original
work. You will upload your paper to Canvas. The link is in the FINAL PAPER MODULE. Turnitin.com will be
used to check for plagiarism. Please only upload .doc, or .docx, files.
Your paper is due: WEDNESDAY, July 20 BY NOON.
INVITEES:
1. Karl Marx
2. Emile Durkheim
3. Max Weber
4. Charlotte Perkins Gilman
5. Patricia Hill Collins
6. Kimberle Crenshaw
7. W.E.B. Du Bois
8. Eduardo Bonilla – Silva
9. George Herbert Mead
10. Erving Goffman
11. Michel Foucault
12. Pierre Bourdieu
13. Jean Baudrillard
14. Judith Butler
15. You
WHAT YOU WILL DO:
1. Imagine you are throwing a dinner party and 8 of you invited guests are in attendance, then:
a. Pair up the 8 theorists in attendance (you do not pair yourself with a theorist, rather you
are there to document and observe the conversations). You will place two people at each
table. Group the available dinner guests according to what pairings you think would elicit
the most interesting conversations. Think about who would have the most to talk about
with each other based on their theoretical orientation, questions they are trying to
answer, and assumptions about the social world.
b. Think about one topic, question, event, or scenario the pairs could discuss with each
other. Your topic can be contemporary or from history. It could be (but is not limited to)
a television show, a current event, something that we have covered in class, a social
problem, and/or a philosophical inquiry. Your topic or question can be the same for each
theorist pairing or can vary. For instance, you could pair up Karl Marx and W.E.B. DuBois
to discuss the racial wealth gap and you can choose this topic for your other theorists to
discuss, or you could pick a new topic.
WHAT YOU WILL WRITE:
You will write a paper that is no less than 5 single spaced pages and no more than 7 single spaced
pages, 12- point Times New Roman font with one inch margins. No cover page is necessary. If you use
outside sources, please include a reference page that is formatted using ASA citation guidelines. ASA
guidelines can be found here: ASA CITATION GUIDE.
In your paper, you will relate the course material to your theorist pairings. This means you will include
information from lectures, readings, and other relevant material (including theories and other
terminology you have learned over the course of the semester) when writing about your theorist
pairs.
IN ORDER TO COMPLETE YOUR ASSIGNMENT, YOU WILL:
o Pair the eight theorists.
o Select a topic for each of the pairs to discuss (you will have four pairs of theorists).
o In your write up you should address the following:
o Why did you group these two theorists together? Why did you choose that question,
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event, topic, or scenario for them to discuss? Your explanation of the topic and discussion
should explicitly link back to the works of the theorists that we have discussed this
semester. You should include information from course material—lecture, videos,
podcasts, etc., in your write up to illustrate how you believe your theorists would discuss
the topic of your choosing.
At the end of your paper, you should include a reflection on this assignment. Your reflection should include
the following:
• Was it difficult to determine whom to pair up? Why or Why not?
• How did you go about selecting the topics for your theorist pairs to discuss?
• What do you think the classical social theorists would say about our current social world?
• What were your overall feelings with regard to this assignment? What did you think
about this assignment?
I encourage everyone to be very self-reflective during the reflection portion of your paper (you can use
first person).
Your written assignment will be graded as follows:
PAIR 1: 20 POINTS POSSIBLE
3 points: Explanation of theorist pair selection.
7 points: Explanation of topic that you have chosen for your theorists to discuss.
10 points: Links to theoretical works and class material. Students will demonstrate that they understand the
theorists and the theoretical works they are using to analyze their selected pairing.
PAIR 2: 20 POINTS POSSIBLE
3 points: Explanation of theorist pair selection.
7 points: Explanation of topic that you have chosen for your theorists to discuss.
10 points: Links to theoretical works and class material. Students will demonstrate that they understand the
theorists and the theoretical works they are using to analyze their selected pairing.
PAIR 3: 20 POINTS POSSIBLE
3 points: Explanation of theorist pair selection.
7 points: Explanation of topic that you have chosen for your theorists to discuss.
10 points: Links to theoretical works and class material. Students will demonstrate that they understand the
theorists and the theoretical works they are using to analyze their selected pairing.
PAIR 4: 20 POINTS POSSIBLE
3 points: Explanation of theorist pair selection.
7 points: Explanation of topic that you have chosen for your theorists to discuss.
10 points: Links to theoretical works and class material. Students will demonstrate that they understand the
theorists and the theoretical works they are using to analyze their selected pairing.
REFLECTION: 15 POINTS POSSIBLE
Students will address and answer the questions outlined in the reflection section of the assignment
instructions.
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MECHANICS: 5 POINTS POSSIBLE
Clarity, Grammar, Spelling and Formatting.
TOTAL ASSIGNMENT POINTS: 100 POSSIBLE POINTS
Detailed grading information for each section is provided below:
PAIRS: 80 POINTS POSSIBLE (20 POINTS PER PAIR)
3 POINTS: THEORIST PAIR SELECTION
Credit will be given to pairing up any of the theorists of your choice. Points will be deducted for:
• Including yourself in a pairing or including a theorist who is not listed on the attendees list.
7 POINTS: EXPLANATION OF TOPIC THAT YOU HAVE CHOSEN FOR THEORISTS TO DISCUSS.
Credit will be given for a clear and concise discussion/description of the topic that you have chosen.
• For instance, if you decide to have your theorists discuss the 2020 presidential election, you will
want to make sure to give a thorough description of the individuals involved in the presidential
election as well as any key issues that were relevant to the presidential election (i.e. media
coverage, debates, electoral college, voting rights/issues, etc.).
o Points will be deducted for explanations that are not clear or it is difficult to determine
what exactly your theorists are discussing.
10 POINTS: LINKS TO THEORETICAL WORKS AND CLASS MATERIAL
Credit will be given for clear and concise incorporation of course materials. In order to receive full credit,
you must incorporate specific and direct references to course material for each theorist.
• If your theorist pairs are Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Erving Goffman and they are
discussing the presidential election you must include specific terminology when discussing
the election.
• For instance, for Goffman, front stage/back stage/impression management would make sense
in this discussion. For Charlotte Perkins Gilman a discussion of gender and politics would be
appropriate.
o Points will be deducted if there are not clear references to course material and
writing demonstrates a lack of understanding the fundamental theoretical
components of each theorist.
REFLECTION: 15 POINTS POSSIBLE
• Credit will be given for thoughtful write-ups that demonstrate a genuine reflection
about this assignment.
o Was it difficult to determine whom to pair up? Why or Why not? (3 points)
o How did you go about selecting the topics for your theorist pairs to discuss? (4 points)
o What do you think the classical social theorists would say about our current social
world? (5 points)
o What were your overall feelings with regard to this assignment? What did you think
about this assignment? (3 points)
Points will be deducted for reflections that demonstrate a lack of reflection/or do not answer portions
of the reflection questions.
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MECHANICS: 5 POINTS POSSIBLE
•
Points will be deducted for papers that are substantially shorter or longer than the page limit, are
lacking paragraph breaks and have numerous spelling and grammatical errors. Please make sure
to proofread your written work.
Additional grading criteria (rubric) for written assignments is posted in the syllabus.
*This assignment has been adapted from “Theorist Dinner Party” created by Haley Gentile, MS.
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Poststructuralism
A theorical trend that
developed in the 1960s
converging on themes such
as the fragmentation of
meaning, the decentering
of the subject, and the
decline of the idea of the
Truth.
Poststructuralism
• Poststructuralism emerges out of a challenge to the dominant ideas of structuralism
that were central in America and Europe in the 1960s.
• American Structuralists theorized that there are forces in the social world that emerge
out of human activity, yet individuals do not have agency (choice) regarding the
choices that they can make within the existing institutions/social world/social forces
(think back to Durkheim and social facts).
• French Structuralists focused on how language has broad properties that provide the
structure for communication along with other aspects of life.
• Think about the gendered nature of language that your book discusses and how
the gendered nature of language has consequences for both individuals and
society.
Symbols and Signs
Additionally, French Structuralist theorize
about the formal development and
understanding of symbols and signs.
SIGNS
• A sign is socially designated to represent
the meaning of objects and experiences.
• Anything that carries meaning can
function as a sign.
• Each sign is constructed of two elements
THE SIGNIFIED and THE SIGNIFIER.
SIGNIFIED
The idea, object, experience,
belief, concept, or feeling
that one individual wishes to
express to another.
SIGNIFIER
The signifier is the
representation that stands in
for the signified.
Example 1:
Examples
SIGNIFIED: Agreement
SIGNIFIER: Nodding one’s head
Meaning is developed out
of the interplay or
relationship between
signs.
Example 2:
SIGNIFIED: Respect of a
performance
SIGNIFIER: Standing on one’s feet
and applauding
Poststructuralists
• However, poststructuralists challenge the idea that signs have universal meaning.
Poststructuralists suggest that there is no universal shared understanding of
meaning.
• Poststructuralists are skeptical regarding universal patterns and theorize that there
are various signifiers that are not connected to one signified.
• Thus, Poststructuralists suggest that the existence of numerous signifiers and
signified suggests that the modern world is not stable, and that meaning is
fragmented.
• Truth is no longer T(ruth) rather truth is simple “a truth” that results from one
privileged point of view.
• So, there are multiple “truths” depending on perspective.
• Both Foucault and Bourdieu are considered poststructuralists.
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
• French Philosopher
• Political activist
• He established the Prison
Information Group
• Challenged both existentialism
and French structuralism
• Publication
• Discipline and Punish (1977)
1926-1984
Key Concepts
Foucault used two distinct methodologies in his work:
ARCHAELOGY – historical methodology whereby discursive practices (language) are unearthed
as if they were the artifacts of past civilizations
GENEALOY – method of sociohistorical analysis of the impact of power on discourse
EPISTEME – framework of knowledge (such as religion or science) that shapes discourse; the
collection of linguistic tools, rules, descriptions, and habits of logic that make
possible specific understandings of the world
Challenging Ideas
• Foucault’s writings and theories challenge the dominant ideas at the time. Foucault was
particularly interested in challenging existentialism and French structuralism.
• Existentialism is focused on the importance of individual autonomy and personal
responsibility—the freedom to make choices and confronting the consequences of those
choices.
• Existentialism and existentialists believe that human activity is more powerful and
important than any social structure. Therefore, structures do not have powerful
influence, nor do they shape the behavior of those living in a particular social structure.
• Finally, existentialists are concerned with how individuals provide meaning to their own
lives.
Discourse Analysis
DISCOURSE ANALYSIS is a
method that several disciplines
(For ex: humanities, linguistics,
sociology) use to study written
or spoken language in relation to
the social context.
• Foucault was interested in discourse in the
following way:
• Foucault was concerned with analyzing
the power relationships in society as
expressed through language and
practices.
• Foucault suggests that discourses are
embedded in social institutions and may
influence individual behaviors (so social
structure matters).
• He develops two methodologies: archaeology
and genealogy to examine and analyze
discourse.
ARCHAEOLOGY
Methodology
Foucault challenges both
existentialism and French
structuralism through the
development of his two
methodologies:
ARCHAEOLOGY and
GENEALOGY.
• Foucault is interested in how individuals
have come to construct particular
meanings about reality and themselves as
well as the formation of discourse
(written or spoken communication).
• Foucault recognizes that patterns of
knowledge change over time via
discourse.
• Foucault calls this shift: episteme.
GENEALOGY
• Foucault examines the dependence of the
production of knowledge on relationships
of power.
• Foucault is particularly interested in the
relationship of knowledge and power:
power/knowledge.
• Knowledge is a specific means for
exercising power.
Example
The example your book provides
(p. 652) is key to understanding
Foucault’s ARCHEOLOGY
approach.
• Foucault publishes Madness in Civilization
(1960) and his writings examine the psychiatric
system at the time.
• However, Foucault is not interested in
improving health outcomes for those with
mental illness.
• Foucault is much more interested in how the
episteme (framework) of mental
illness/psychiatry shapes how certain
behaviors/individuals come to be labeled
(discourse) as mentally ill.
• He also is interested in understanding who has
the power to distribute labels of mental illness.
Example
• Foucault theorizes that the acquisition of
knowledge does not give one power rather
knowledge is already deeply invested with
power: power IS knowledge.
• Knowledge is a specific way of exercising
power.
Foucault uses GENEALOGY to
examine the relationship
between power and knowledge.
• Foucault theorizes that power is in its most
effective form when it is not expressed using
force rather when it has been translated into
systems of knowledge.
• Foucault’s writing about the penal system
and punishment demonstrates this
concept.
Discipline and Punish
1975
“Inspection functions ceaselessly. The gaze is alert everywhere…” (p.662)
The Phases of Punishment
• Discipline and Punish is one of Foucault’s most well-known
works and it is here we see the use of his method of
GENEALOGY.
• He traces the origin and history of punishment and
identifies three phases of punishment to demonstrate the
relationship between power and knowledge.
PHASE I: PUBLIC PUNISHMENT; TORTURE
• In the first phase Foucault examines how (in the
example he highlights) punishment historically was on
display for individuals to witness. The methods of
punishment (For Ex: public executions) were brutal and
inflicted gruesome pain and torture on the individual
being punished.
• Punishment was also typically administered from one
person or an identifiable central authority.
• Here the first phase of punishment is exemplified
by clear and unambiguous sources of power.
• Individuals know who has “power.”
• These severe punitive practices for the public to watch
are used to repress or deter individual members of the
public from engaging in punishable behavior or actions.
Phase I:
PUBLIC
PHASE II: SHIFTS IN CONCERNS OVER PUNISHMENT
PRACTICES; RISE IN SURVEILLANCE AND DISCIPLINE
• In the second phase physical harm (torture; pain) is replaced
by punishment aimed at the mind instead of the body.
• However, Foucault theorizes that this shift is not a result
over the concern for brutal practices that inflict pain or
torture rather systems of power have been transformed to
technologies of power.
• Remember that Foucault does not believe that the shift is
because out of a concern for humanity (not using brutal
methods) rather the system of power has just transformed
the way that punishment is inflicted.
• Rather than an individual embodying the power to
administer punishment, Foucault theorizes the power to
administer punishment has now been transformed to
technologies that surveil and discipline.
Phase II:
SURVEILLANCE
AND
DISCIPLINE
Danger of Surveillance
While surveillance and punishment
are less physically severe, Foucault
argues that this second phase may
be more dangerous, as
technologies for surveillance and
discipline are implemented at
individuals inside and outside of
the penal system.
• For instance, think about the rise in
drones, security cameras, health
records that are digital, Facebook
algorithms that show you certain
advertisements based on your
browsing preferences.
• These are surveillance techniques
that have an affect of monitoring
individual behavior, which was
historically reserved for those in the
prison system.
THE
PANOPTICON
The Panopticon
THE PANOPTICON
• An institutional building and a
system of control that was
developed by Jeremy Bentham (1748
– 1832).
• The two main features of the
Panopticon are a central guard tower
and a circular gallery of cells.
• In the Panopticon the central guard
tower can see into all the prison cells,
yet the prisoners can not view the guard
in the central guard tower, so the
prisoners are unaware when they are
under surveillance.
• This leads to the prisoners thinking (the
mind) that they are under surveillance
every minute of every day.
• Thus, in the Panopticon the threat of
surveillance always exists and as a result
prisoners self-monitor and self-surveil
their own behavior.
PHASE III: THE DISCIPLINARY SOCIETY
• In the third phase individuals are in constant
fear of being watched so they modify their
behavior and normalize their actions which is a
result of self-induced complicity to rules.
• Foucault theorizes that there is a constant gaze
of surveillance and now individuals have
internalized the Panopticon.
• Foucault theorizes that in the disciplinary
society the threat of the guard in the central
guard tower is no longer needed as individuals
have internalized this threat and as a result self
– discipline their own behavior and actions.
Phase III:
THE
DISCIPLINARY
SOCIETY
Power/Knowledge
So, how is all of this linked to
power/knowledge?
• Foucault theorizes that power has been
transformed from a centralized/identifiable
structure/social institution to a DISCIPLINARY
INDIVIDUAL where power is free floating and
there is no longer a need for a formal
structure to administer punishment as
individuals are now self disciplining.
• Power now has multiple manifestations.
• The control has shifted from the body to
the mind.
NPR : All Tech Considered
In More Cities, A Camera On Every Corner,
Park And Sidewalk
• Finally, with the development of new
knowledge (scientific discovery; educational
practices, etc.) there will always be new
locations for exercising power.
BREAK
This would be a good point to take a
few minutes to let what you just
learned settle in your mind.
Stand up and Stretch.
Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu
• French Sociologist
• Influenced by Marx, Durkheim,
Weber
• Critical of how education
maintains social class differences
• Created the Center of Sociology for
Education and Culture
• Publications
• Social Space and the Genesis of
Groups (1982)
• Outline of a Sociological Theory
of Art Perception (1968)
1930-2002
Key Concepts
HABITUS – mental filter that structures an individual’s perceptions, experiences, and
practices, such that the world takes on a taken-for-granted, commonsense
appearance
ECONOMIC CAPITAL – material resources such as land, wealth, or money that one
possesses and that can be used to advance one’s position
CULTURAL CAPITAL – nonmaterial goods, such as education credentials, types of
knowledge and expertise, verbal skills, and aesthetic
preferences, that can be converted into economic capital or
otherwise used to one’s advantage
Key Concepts
SYMBOLIC CAPITAL – commonly labeled as prestige, honor, reputation, or charisma,
symbolic capital is the form in which other forms of capital are
perceived and recognized as legitimate.
SOCIAL CAPITAL – networks of contacts and acquaintances that can be used to
secure or advance one’s position.
FIELDS – A relatively autonomous arena within which actors and institutions mobilize
their capital in an effort to capture the distribution of capital that is specific to
it.
Dualism
Bourdieu is interested in the idea of
DUALISM
SOCIAL FORCES/STRUCTURE
• Patterned arrangements, stable elements
of institutions that organize relationships,
and influence or constrain the choices of
individuals.
INDIVIDUALS INTERNAL
• Bourdieu analyzes and theorizes about the
PERCEPTION/AGENCY
interplay between external social forces
• How individuals make their own choices
(structure) that shape attitudes as well as
an individuals own internal perception of
within existing social structures.
the social world (agency).
Bourdieu develops the concept of HABITUS
to link the external and the internal.
• “A mental filter that structures an individual’s perceptions,
experiences, and practices” (p. 675).
Habitus
• An individual’s habitus is a sense of their place in the world
or their point of view about their world.
• However, individuals do not create their habitus they
acquire their habitus.
• The habitus is a scheme or a structure of perceptions,
dispositions, and actions, the habitus “generates and
organizes practices and representations”—the habitus
structures an individual’s experience and orientation
to the social world (p. 677).
• The habitus as a structure is also structured by one’s
position in the social space (social world) (p. 677).
• Think back to the link between social forces and internal
perception. The habitus is a acquired as a result of the
interplay between the two (structure/agency).
Social Space and The
Genesis of Groups
1982
“To speak of a social space means that one cannot group just anyone
with anyone while ignoring the fundamental differences, particularly
economic and cultural ones. But this never entirely excludes the possibility
of organizing agency in accordance with other principles of
division⎯ethnic or national ones, for example…” (p.692)
Key Concepts
EDUCATION – social institution through which society provides its members with
important knowledge, including basic facts, job skills and cultural norms
and values.
DOMINANT IDEOLOGY – A widely held set of beliefs embedded in the culture of
society and acting to inhibit the development of radical
political dissent (Korgen and Atkinson, 2018).
MERITOCRACY – A society where the most talented rise to the top and are awarded
for their contributions (Korgen and Atkinson, 2018).
Education in the United States tends to reflect the core American value of meritocracy.
The Link Between Geographic Space and
Social Space
• To understand habitus: Think about how YOU see/visualize the social world.
• Imagine you are standing in front of Strozier (the FSU Library).
• Then imagine your friend is standing in front of the FSU Football stadium.
• Do you both see the same thing? No, because your field of vision does not extend that far. You
will only be able to see the library and your friend will only be able to see the stadium because of
the point of view you both have.
• However, if you and your friend were both looking at the stadium you may both see different
aspects of the stadium because of how your point of view locates the stadium.
• Even if you and your friend see different parts of the stadium you will both think that the parts that
you see are correct and real.
• Your perception of the social world is not only dependent on what you see but how you internally
understand what you are seeing (your truth versus their truth).
So, this can get tricky, but this is how Bourdieu develops the
link between the external and the internal.
Geographic
Space
EXTERNAL (FSU Football stadium): What you can visually see
INTERNAL How you—comprehend, think about, make sense
of—the football stadium and this comprehension will differ
person to person because everyone has their own habitus
which shapes how they view the social world.
• We can also see how Bourdieu is offering an example of
the unstable meanings in the social world.
• Depending on one’s geographic and social space
factual conditions may look different to different
people.
Your point of view is a result of your social space which is
shaped by an individual’s economic and cultural capital.
Social Space
ECONOMIC CAPITAL: Refers to the material resources—
wealth, land, money—that one controls or possesses.
CULTURAL CAPITAL: Refers to nonmaterial goods such as
educational credentials, types of knowledge and expertise.
Within a particular social space individuals are positioned to
one another dependent on their cultural and economic
capital and the possession of economic and cultural capital
structures an individual’s experience and orientation to the
social world.
• Thus, the habitus is acquired through the social space,
which is dependent on economic and cultural capital.
CHILDHOOD SOCIALIZATION has a large
influence on economic and cultural capital.
Socialization
Economic &
Cultural Capital
SOCIALIZATION: How individuals learn the
social norms and expectations of a given
society (Korgen and Atkinson, 2018).
Think about how habitus is acquired as result
of economic and cultural capital, which is then
translated into an individual’s life chances.
Example
CHILD 1: Grows up in a wealthy
neighborhood, attends boarding school,
plays flute, and has two college
educated professional parents.
CHILD 2: Grows up in a working-class
neighborhood, attends public school,
sings in choir, and has two parents who
did not complete college who work in
retail and manufacturing.
How will each child’s habitus differ? How will
their habitus structure their individual life
chances?
Think beyond the structural components
(economic resources). Rather consider will
child 2 aspire to attend college? Work in a
professional setting? Will they even consider
that they have an opportunity to attend
college?
This is how habitus can operate as a
structure that reproduces inequality as the
social perception (how one views the world)
influences the choices individuals may make.
Bourdieu was also interested in SOCIAL
REPRODUCTION.
Social
Reproduction
SOCIAL REPRODUCTION
• The reproduction of stratified,
hierarchical relations that deflect or
resist calls for radical change by
those positioned in dominant
positions in the social space.
Social Reproduction and Inequality
• Those in power will work to stay in power and will work to delegitimize any challenges to the status
quo.
• However, the status quo is what they (those in power) have created to serve their interests.
• Bourdieu takes inspiration from Marx when theorizing that class and economic relations are the keys
to understanding inequality between individuals and societies.
• However, Bourdieu does not believe that economic capital is the only way to express domination
and power.
• Individuals can also express power and domination through social capital.
SOCIAL CAPITAL: Refers to the networks of contacts and acquaintances that can be used to secure
or advance one’s position.
Social Reproduction
in Application
Bourdieu theorizes that
education systems reproduce
INEQUALITY.
NPR Articles:
College Admissions Scandal Shows How The
System Favors Wealthy Students
College Admissions Scandal Reveals Difficult Path
To Acceptance
He theorizes that the education system tends to
cater to the social, economic, and cultural
capital of upper-class families.
“…In Bourdieu’s theory the school’s failure is
located in its structured refusal to develop a
“universal pedagogy” – a pedagogy that
takes nothing for granted –able to succeed
with relatively unprepared working – class
pupils…” (Nash, 1990).
Which then leaves out students who do not
have the “correct” capital.
Symbolic Capital
and Fields
Bourdieu also extends Weber’s writings on
domination and authority.
• Individuals who possesses symbolic capital have
the authority to dominate and demand
legitimacy over others
• For Bourdieu symbolic capital is an individual’s self
interest disguised as political and economic power
that is constructed as inevitable or natural.
• This struggle for legitimacy takes place within
FIELDS
• Recall that Weber discussed charismatic
authority, Bourdieu theorizes that an
individual can possess SYMBOLIC CAPITAL. FIELDS
• Autonomous arenas where institutions and
individual actors mobilize to capture the
SYMBOLIC CAPITAL
distribution of capital that is specific to a certain
• Honor, prestige, reputation, charisma.
field.
Outline of a Sociological
Theory of Art Perception
1968
“Educated people are at home with scholarly culture.” (p.701)
Art as Symbolic Capital
• Bourdieu identifies artistic competence as symbolic capital which
maintains relations of social domination
• Those who can interpret “high” art are separated with a form of
distinction from those who can not
• This ability to “appreciate” and “create” art is another example of
class privilege
Think about it…
• How would poststructuralists contend with the recent development of “fake news”? How
might “fake news” be used? Is “fake news” being used to create one over arching TRUTH?
• What does Foucault mean by power is knowledge?
• What do you think Foucault would think/say about our reliance on our smart devices
(iPhone, Apple Watch, Fitbit, Alexa, etc.) and their ability to collect knowledge about us?
How do these devices make us “disciplinary individuals”?
• What is an individual’s habitus? How is the habitus acquired?
• What type of education is privileged over the other? Think about University/College
versus Community College or Trade School. What would Bourdieu say?
• What is social reproduction?
• Think back to the College Admissions pieces. How does this represent Bourdieu’s ideas on
social capital and social reproduction?
• What are symbolic capital and fields? How do these concepts fit within the education
system?
REVIEW
• Foucault challenges both existentialism and French structuralism through the development of his two
methodologies: archaeology and genealogy.
• Foucault suggests that discourses are embedded in social institutions and may influence individual behaviors.
• ARCHAEOLOGY: A historical method where discursive practices (language) are unearthed to better understand the
evolution/history of human understanding.
• GENEALOGY: A method of sociohistorical analysis on the impact of power on discourse.
• Power is Knowledge: POWER/KNOWLEDGE
• DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH
• THREE PHASES: Public →Surveillance (Panopticon) →Disciplinary Society
• BOURDIEU – poststructuralism and the tension between structure and agency
• HABITUS
• SOCIAL SPACE: Economic, Social, Cultural, and Symbolic Capital
• The habitus, economic relations and the link to inequality
• SOCIAL REPRODUCTION – reproduction of stratified, hierarchical relations that deflect or resist calls for radical
change by those position in dominant positions in the social space
• The EDUCATION SYSTEM is a key site of inequality and the social reproduction of middle-class values
YouTube Videos:
Postmodernism
A historical moment and
a type of theorizing in
which time-space
configurations are
completely changed and
a skepticism about the
methods, goals, and
ideals of modern society
is expressed.
Postmodernism
• Postmodern theorists see the current social world as very different than the
social world of the past.
• As a result of the difference, new methods need to be developed in order to
analyze and study the (new) social world.
• Postmodernists also have a negative view of the goals, ideals, and prospects of
the modern world.
• Postmodernists believe that one of the important changes in social world has
been a shift in the economic system.
• Historically individuals produced their own goods and worked in manufacturing
positions. Additionally, the economic system was focused on production and
manufacturing.
• However, the current economic system is structured around the consumption of
goods and services. The economic system is increasingly built around serviceoriented industries, such as sales.
Mass Media vs.
New Media
Postmodernists are also interested
in the rise of new media and
interactive technology (For ex:
Smart Devices)
NPR: Technology
New Apple Watch To Detect Abnormal Heartbeats
NPR: The Two-Way
Amazon Echo Recorded And Sent Couple’s
Conversation — All Without Their Knowledge
New Media is also characterized by
boundaries that are less clear. The
relationship between production and
consumption is not clear.
• Is reality TV really real? Or is it a
staged simulation of what a group
determines to be “real?”
• How does social media fit?
Chicago Sun Times
‘Unsolved Mysteries’ on Netflix surges in popularity with
tips already coming in
Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard
• French Sociologist
• Most prominent postmodern
theorist
• Best know for his analysis of
media, communication, and
contemporary culture
• Central ideas: hyperreality and
simulations
• Claim to “fame” – inspired the
storyline for The Matrix and his
book makes a cameo appearance
• Publication
• Simulacra and Simulations
(1981)
1929-2007
Key Concepts
SIMULATION – model or reproduction that is often more real than “reality” itself
SIMULACRA – copies of objects for which there is no true original
HYPERREAL – the generation of models of a real without origin or reality
HYPERREALITY – “reality” that has been already reproduced
Mode of Consumption
• Baudrillard is critical of the consumer/consumption focus of
society.
• His early writings took inspiration from Marx and focused on the
economic components of society and how individuals
consume/purchase products (commodities).
• However, his later writings (and what we will focus on) are critical
of consumption practices and the multiple meanings that are tied
to commodities/products.
Conspicuous
Consumption
Baudrillard’s early theories are
influenced by Marx, however,
Baudrillard focuses on the
capitalist consumption of
goods rather than the
production of goods.
Baudrillard theorizes that the everyday
collection of home furnishings (For example:
kitchen set, bedroom set) signify keeping up
with technological progress (For example:
Alexa, Echo, Smart Homes) and as a result
contribute to the process of conspicuous
consumption
CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION
Acquiring and purchasing luxury goods to
publicly display one’s power (Veblen,
1899).
Simulacra and Simulations
1981
“Disneyland is a perfect model of all the entangled
orders of simulation.” (p.748)
Signs
SIGNS
• A sign is socially designated to represent
the meaning of objects and experiences.
• Anything that carries meaning can
function as a sign.
• Each sign is constructed of two elements
THE SIGNIFIED and THE SIGNIFIER.
SIGNIFIED
The idea, object, experience,
belief, concept, or feeling
that one individual wishes to
express to another.
SIGNIFIER
The signifier is the
representation that stands in
for the signified.
The Hyperreal World
• Baudrillard theorizes that hyperreality is a product of
the separation of signifiers from signifieds.
• Individuals have created and used signifiers that have
lost their connection to a STABLE SIGNIFIED.
Multiple Meanings
• Baudrillard theorizes that signs
no longer convey a specific or
unified meaning.
• There are multiple meanings
attached to objects of
consumption (or signs) that no
longer refer to a direct or
concrete reality.
The example in the textbook of ripped
jeans (p. 740) is useful in conveying this
idea.
• What do ripped jeans really signify?
• Has the meaning of ripped jeans
changed over time? Is the rip simply a
tear in the fabric? Or a fashion trend
that signifies a certain status?
We come to understand individuals
through the symbols we personify and
give meaning to.
Dodge commercial (man’s last stand) – YouTube
Simulation
• A model or reproduction.
• In a postmodern analysis a
simulation refers to the instance
when an image or model becomes
more real than reality itself.
• For Example: Think about posts
on social media (ex: Instagram).
What is “real?”
• Copies of objects for which there is no
true original.
Simulacra
Your book highlights several examples:
• Disney World, The French Quarter in
New Orleans and Television.
These simulations reproduce
experiences of an already “simulated”
reality.
Hyperreality
• Baudrillard argues that the world that we exist in
has become HYPERREAL.
• The world is now filled with simulations of
“reality” that have replaced reality itself.
• Reality has been reproduced.
• Baudrillard theorizes that there is no distinction
between what is real and the model or
simulation of reality.
• Finally, simulations stand in for or are considered
MORE REAL than reality
• Again, go back to our example of
Disneyworld, does walking in Epcot convey
“more reality” than actually physically visiting
these places?
The Order of
the Simulacra
• Baudrillard theorizes that the FIRST
ORDER OF THE SIMULACRA began in the
Renaissance and ended during the
Industrial Revolution.
• In the first phase signs begin to multiply,
however, even though there are multiple
signs they are still tied to representations
of the natural world.
• The meaning of signs is judged with
respect to an empirical reality.
• What Baudrillard deems: THE
NATURAL LAW OF VALUE
First
Order
• The SECOND ORDER OF THE SIMULACRA
begins with the Industrial Revolution, and
it is during this time period that we see an
increase in the production of signs
(through photography, film, press, etc.).
• Advertising increases and signs become
produced from other signs, there may be
no concrete link to a representation in the
natural world.
• In the second phase signs also begin to
represent “lifestyles”
• For instance, what might VANS
sneakers signify?
Second
Order
• The THIRD ORDER OF THE SIMULACRA begins
in the late 20th Century
• Baudrillard theorizes that signs now no longer
have any connection with material reality.
• Simulacra emerge as copies of objects that
have always only been copies.
• What Baudrillard deems: THE STRUCTURAL
LAW OF VALUE.
• Signs and images claim to represent something
real, but arbitrary images are merely suggested
as objects which they have no relationship to.
• The Nike example in your textbook (p. 741)
is useful for illuminating this third order of
the simulacra.
Third
Order
BREAK
This would be a good point to take a
few minutes to let what you just
learned settle in your mind.
Stand up and Stretch.
Judith Butler
Judith Butler
• American Philosopher
• Inspired by Foucault
• Considered part of the “third
wave” of feminism
• Critical of the gender binary
• Argues that neither “sex” or
“gender” are “hard-wired”
• One of the most important figures
in Queer Theory
• Publication
• Gender Trouble (1990)
1956 –
Key Concepts
Butler challenges the universal concept of “woman” in feminist theory
PERFORMATIVITY – the sustained continual nature of gender performance
QUEER THEORY – school of theory that emerged from gay and lesbian studies; queer
theorists view all sexual behaviors and identities as social constructs
HETERSEXUAL MATRIX – a normative system that classifies “proper” men or women
as heterosexual
Queer Theory
Butler and others state that ALL
sexual behaviors, ALL concepts
linking sexual behaviors to sexual
identities, and ALL categories of
normative and deviant sexualities
are socially constructed.
“Sex is a Norm”
• It can be conformed to or contested
• Homosexuals are as “natural” as
Heterosexuals
• Discrimination against LGBTQ+
individuals is not a function of their
sexuality but their “failure” to
perform heterosexual gender norms
• “Proper heterosexual men and
women” may attempt to understand
homosexuality by assigning one
partner of a same-gender couple the
“male” identity and the other the
“female” identity
Gender Trouble
1990
“If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps this construct
called “sex” is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it
was always already gender, with the consequence that the distinction
between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all.” (p.759)
• Early Feminist Theory focused on the language
needed to “adequately” represent women in
politics
The Trouble with
“Representation”
• Once again, the challenge of feminism is that
assumes that using the word “woman”
represents a common identity
• This fragmentation within feminism and the fact
that some women oppose feminism suggests the
limits of identity politics
• Gender identity is not natural, but a
product of the social world.
Sex vs Gender
• No body is a gender from the start, we
are taught how to perform gender
• Gender is an “act” that become true
• So, if gender is who we are, do we still
need the social label of “sex”?
Think about it…
Postmodern theories are frequently critiqued for being critical of the social world yet not
offering any solutions to what they critique.
• Are all these documentaries we watch on Netflix, Hulu (or another service) true? What is
true? Or have they been produced so the viewer thinks they are true?
• How can we truly know that reality does not exist? If we are unable to know then does the
premise of postmodernism fall apart?
• Additionally, Baudrillard is suggesting that signs have multiple meanings, yet is this always
fundamentally problematic? What is the issue with multiple signifiers/signified?
• Is the advent of technology and new media always problematic?
• Butler states that the distinction between sex and gender may not be a distinction at all.
What do you think, and why?
• Why would Queer Theory be considered a postmodern theory?
• Is society becoming more accepting of diverse expressions of gender performativity? What
about gender reveal parties for babies not yet born?
REVIEW
• Postmodernists believe that one of the important changes in social world has been a shift in the
economic system.
• However, the current economic system is structured around the consumption of goods and services.
The economic system is increasingly built around service-oriented industries, such as sales.
• SIMULATION – A model or reproduction.
• SIMULACRA – Copies of objects for which there is no true original.
• HYPERRREALITY – Reality has been reproduced.
• Baudrillard theorizes that there is no distinction between what is real and the model or simulation of
reality.
• Butler argues that homosexuality is as “natural” as heterosexuality
• PERFORMATIVITY – the sustained continual nature of gender performance
• QUEER THEORY – queer theorists view all sexual behaviors and identities as social constructs
• HETERSEXUAL MATRIX – a normative system that classifies “proper” men or women as heterosexual
• Discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals is not a function of their sexuality but their “failure” to
perform heterosexual gender norms
YouTube Videos:
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
• American Sociologist
• She was one of the first to try to
explain how women and men
came to have their “societal roles”
• She tried to explain why societies
developed gender inequalities
• Considered a “first-wave feminist”
• Publication
• Women and Economics (1898)
1860-1935
Limitations of
Classical Theory
Early classical sociological
theory is criticized for only
validating the voices of
men and in particular,
upper-class white men.
LIMITATION ONE OF EARLY CLASSICAL THEORIES
• Men’s and women’s experiences were treated as the
same OR women’s experiences were not as important
as men’s (therefore they were not written about).
• We see this in Marx’s writing, remember that he does
not discuss the differences between men and women
as workers, which suggests that he is assuming that all
workers are men. Yet women and men have different
work experiences. Additionally, workers will have
different experiences based on race, class and gender.
LIMITATION TWO OF EARLY CLASSICAL THEORIES
• When women’s experiences were written or theorized
about, women were confined to the sphere of the
home.
• Works emphasized the only place women were
relevant or useful was in the home/family sphere.
• This lens ignores women’s contributions in settings
other than the home/family.
Privilege
Most early sociologists were
privileged by their gender (they
were men), therefore, early
sociological writings do not
discuss gender as a sphere of
inequality or a component of
the social world that needs to
be studied, because men did not
face inequality or unequal
treatment based on their
gender.
PRIVILEGE
• Is a set of mostly unearned
rewards and benefits that come
with a given status position in
society.
• Privilege is mostly invisible to
those who have privilege. If you
occupy a privileged status, you
typically do not spend a lot of
time thinking about your
privilege.
BIOSOCIAL
Thinking about Gender
There are many ways to think about gender,
however, two of the dominant ways of
theorizing about gender are from a BIOSOCIAL
APPROACH or from a SOCIAL
CONSTRUCTIONIST APPROACH.
• Sociologists typically use a Social
Constructionist approach to think about
assigned sex and gender, yet it is important
to be aware of Biosocial approaches as the
Biosocial approach dominates most
mainstream information that you might hear
or read about.
Suggests that sex marks a physical and
genetic distinction between two discrete
categories of people with a corresponding
gender category.
While Biosocial approaches recognize that
the meanings of gender have shifted over
time the limits of bodies (biology) suggest
that there are only two categories that
individuals fit in (the GENDER BINARY).
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONIST
Argues that there is no biological basis to
gender categories, yet the social meanings that
we attach to male and female sex categories,
causes individuals and social institutions to
believe there are real categories in the social
world called “female” and “male.” Social
Constructionists do not suggest that biology
and bodies do not exist rather they argue that
biological differences do not line up with the
categories we have created and the categories
that exist are limiting and do not capture the
full experience that individuals have.
Gender  Sex
BIOLOGICAL SEX/ASSIGNED SEX STATUS
• A medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to
classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical
sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth” (Defining LGBTQ+ 2020).
• Sex status is a social position based on biology (e.g., chromosomes, hormones).
• The two primary sex statuses are male and female.
• Biological sex is assigned at birth.
GENDER
• A social concept that encompasses the socially learned attitudes and behaviors that are associated with or
layered onto a particular sex status.
GENDER IDENTITY
• The internal perception of one’s gender, and how they label themselves (Defining LGBTQ+ 2020).
Gender
Socialization
The process by which
individuals learn gender
norms for a particular
time and place (Korgen
and Atkinson, 2019).
Gender
Inequality
Gilman theorized that gender
needs to be conceptualized as
a system of inequality that is
not simply based on the fact
that men and women are
biologically different, but
rather because the differences
are a result of how society is
organized.
Theory of Gender Inequality Development
Gilman combines:
• Marxist emphasis on the economic and political basis for gender
inequality
• Symbolic interactionist emphasis on how gender differences are
reinforced and institutionalized via socialization
• Sociobiological emphasis on the evolutionary roots of gender
differences
Key Concepts
Gilman sought to understand gender and how society defined gender roles
GENDER INEQUALITY – disparity in status, power, and prestige between people who identify as women
and men
ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE – when there is a direct relationship between one’s labor and one’s
compensation for that labor
SEX DISTINCTIONS – organs, functions and modifications of structure and function related to
reproduction
EXCESSIVE SEX-DISTINCTION – distinctions between the genders/sexes that are dysfunctional for the
species
Women and Economics
1898
“The labor of women in the house, certainly, enables men to
produce more than they otherwise could; and in this way women
are economic factors in society. But so are horses. (p.200)
Women and
Economics
Gilman challenged the
dominant idea that men
and women were different
because of their biology,
rather she theorized that
socialization and the social
environment shaped the
different experiences of
men and women.
If men and women are taught that they are
different then they will be expected to
perform and engage in different tasks. Men
and women will be also considered more
suited for certain tasks.
Gilman theorized that the division of labor of
the traditional family (breadwinner
husband/stay-at-home wife) was inherently
problematic because it made women
economically dependent on men (their
husbands).
Gilman emphasized that different
socialization (for men and women) leads to
and sustains gender inequality.
Household Division
of Labor
Gilman theorized
regarding how the
household was
organized and how this
organization was based
on social not biological
differences.
HOUSEHOLD DIVISION OF LABOR – The way in
which tasks necessary to the care and running of
a household are distributed.
Typically, in the social sciences the division of
labor in the household is an important indicator
of EQUALITY within relationships.
PAID WORK: outside of the home; associated
with men.
UNPAID WORK: inside the home; associated
with women.
• This work is typically characterized as feminine work
or the work that women are expected to complete or
perform.
Women’s Work
Gilman pushed back against the
dominant perspective that suggested
that women are confined to the
household because of their biological
childrearing responsibilities.
Gilman argued that women’s work is
mostly house service (cooking,
cleaning, mending, etc.), not child
service (bearing children,
breastfeeding, etc.).
Thus, Gilman theorized that the traditional
division of labor is not biologically driven, rather
it is a social system that renders women
economically dependent on men.
Gilman theorized that rather than develop their
own capabilities, women were forced to reduce
themselves to attracting a viable life partner,
who could provide economic support.
Gilman theorized that this economically makes
sense for women, because “their profit comes
through the power of sex-attraction,” not
through their own abilities.
PRIMARY
Sex-Distinctions
Differences in structure and function
essential to reproduction
Structure Examples: vaginas, penises
Gilman defines SEX-DISTINCTIONS as the
differences in structure and function related to
reproduction and identifies two types: Primary
sex-distinctions and Secondary sexdistinctions.
She argues that Secondary sex-distinctions
have become EXCESSIVE SEX-DISTINCTIONS,
which are dysfunctional for humans.
Example: Women are so frail that they can’t
become overly educated.
Function Examples: producing breast
milk
SECONDARY
Modifications of structure and
function that serve reproduction but
are not essential to reproduction
In Summary
Thus, Gilman demonstrated the economic and social systems that
worked to separate men and women and as a result granted men more
power and privilege than women.
Gilman challenged the biological reasoning that validated gender
differences and theorized regarding the social aspects of gender
inequality.
Think about it…
• Why do sociologists study gender from a sociological not biological standpoint?
• How does Gilman theorize that women are made to be economically dependent
on men?
• Why does Mary Hill critique Gilman’s biological determinism argument (p.209)?
What is the contradiction Gilman did not notice in her own work?
• What might be some of the limitations of Gilman’s writings?
• What kind of privilege does Gilman have?
• There is no real discussion of race or class in her theory, and this is a major
limitation. How might women have different experiences based on race and
class?
• Early theorists were critiqued for equating the experiences of men with women,
are all women’s experiences the same?
REVIEW
• Gilman emphasized how gender socialization leads to and sustains gender inequality.
• In doing so, she challenged the assumption that biological differences were the reason why
men and women took part in different tasks/occupations/social activities.
• Thus, Gilman suggests that the traditional division of labor is not biologically driven, rather the
division is a result of social factors.
CONTRIBUTIONS
• Role of women, unequal power balance in society; Marxism, women and work, early
feminist.
LIMITATIONS
• White Middle-Class Woman perspective
YouTube Videos:
Max Weber
Max Weber
• German Sociologist
• He focused on the subjective aspect of social
life and identified four types of social action
• Helped establish the Heidelberg Academy of
the Sciences in 1909 and the Sociological
Society in 1910
• Publications
• The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of
Capitalism (1904)
• The Distribution of Power within the
Political Community: Class, Status, Party
(1925)
• The Types of Legitimate Domination
(1925)
• Bureaucracy (1925)
1864-1920
Key Concepts
Weber sought to understand the meanings individuals assign to the social world
VERSTEHEN – interpretive understanding
SOCIAL ACTION – has subjective meaning and takes into account the behavior of others
IDEAL TYPES – analytical constructs against which real-life cases can be compared
RATIONALIZATION – an ongoing process in which social interaction and institutions become increasingly
governed by methodical procedures and calculable rules
BUREAUCRACIES – organizations based on impersonal, standardized rules and procedures implemented
by separate, hierarchically ordered positions dedicated to performing specialized
tasks
IRON CAGE – the dominance of material acquisition, and bureaucratic forms of organization
Four Types of Social Action
Social Action
Weber was interested in why individuals
made the choices that they did and how
they made sense of their choices.
INSTRUMENTAL-RATIONAL ACTION – behaviors
geared toward the efficient pursuit of goals by
calculating the advantages/disadvantages with
the possible means for realizing them
Weber theorized that SOCIAL ACTION
occurs when individuals attach subjective
meaning to their actions.
VALUE-RATIONAL ACTION – behaviors based on
the individual’s values; it is the “right” thing to
do
Weber theorized that individuals may use
all four types of social action when making
decisions.
TRADITIONAL ACTION – behaviors determined
by habit or long-standing custom
AFFECTIVE ACTION – behaviors driven by
emotions
Theory Development
• Weber theorized about societal development.
• He was interested in understanding what guided societal development.
• Was societal development guided by values, traditions and
emotions?
• Or was societal development guided by formal and informal
bureaucratic practices?
The Protestant Ethic and
the Spirit of Capitalism
1904
“Man [was now] dominated by making money, by acquisition
as the ultimate purpose of life.” (p.166)
What Inspires Social Change?
• Recall that Marx theorized that the social world was organized under an economic
system and that the economic system led to class struggles around the means of
production.
• For Marx it was these material (economic) elements of society that produced
conflict and social change.
• Weber, however, theorizes that ideas and attitudes are also important to
understanding social change.
• Ideas that are deemed important and valued will be translated into practices
that will be the dominant features of the modern world.
The Spirit of Capitalism
• Weber characterized the modern Western world as having an ASCETIC EXISTENCE
• An ascetic existence suggests abstinence (not taking part in) from worldly
pleasures and focusing on religious and spiritual goals.
• Weber also theorizes that individuals have a CALLING (Life Task) to pursue individual
and worldly success (p. 164).
• This calling or life task is rooted in gaining RELIGIOUS SALVATION.
• Weber theorizes that western capitalism pursued ECONOMIC PROFIT as its end goal
and obtaining this economic profit was tied to morality and personal responsibility.
• Individuals who were moral and personally responsible would obtain ECONOMIC
SUCCESS.
The Spirit of
Capitalism
How did this SPIRIT OF
CAPITALISM develop?
The CALLING was interpreted as God’s
commandment to work for God.
• The calling was then interpreted as
individuals could determine their fate
through hard work.
• Success and economic profit were
evidence that God thought favorably
of a particular individual.
• Consequently—work ethic and
religious salvation are now linked
with one another.
The Iron Cage
The ascetic ideals that were fundamental to the
PROTESTANT ETHIC then filtered into the practical affairs
of economic activity and social life.
• As a result, hard work and moral responsibility were
now linked to all aspects of daily life.
• Hence, daily life became increasingly rationalized
and created an IRON CAGE where all life is
governed by the rules and practices of capitalism
and the economic system.
• The dominance of capitalism and impersonal
bureaucratic forms of organization was a collective force
that now determined the life chances of the individual.
In order to succeed an individual must work.
• Individual salvation was dependent on fulfilling the
moral obligation to perform the duties of their
labor.
• Society is transformed to an individualist capitalist
society focused on ECONOMIC SUCCESS.
The Distribution of Power
within the Political
Community: Class, Status,
Party
1925
“Man does not strive for power only in order to enrich
economically. Power, including economic power, may be
valued for its own sake.” (p.178)
Power
Different forms of power are connected
to: Economic Classes, Status Groups,
Political Parties
The chance of one or a group
to realize their own will in a
social action even against the
resistance of others.
Power can be used to increase one’s
“social honor” or just to use it. However,
one form of power may not translate into
another form of power.
• Remember, for Marx classes are based
on a group’s relationship to the means of
production
Classes
• Weber believes that CLASSES are people
who share “life chances”
• CLASSES are the result of a shared “class
situation” that reflects the type and
number of exchanges one can make in
the market
Status
STATUS Groups are communities
determined by their social “honor”
which is expressed through lifestyles
STATUS Group membership is used
to restrict an individual’s chances for
social interaction
Despite one’s economic power, one’s
STATUS can affect educational and
professional opportunities
Parties
PARTIES can be political
groups or other organized
groups
PARTIES are characterized
by the strategic pursuit of
goals such as labor unions
BREAK
This would be a good point to take a
few minutes to let what you just
learned settle in your mind.
Stand up and Stretch.
The Types of Legitimate
Domination
1925
“…every genuine form of domination implies a minimum of
voluntary compliance, that is, an interest…in obedience.”
(p.187)
LEGITIMACY
Legitimacy and Domination
When we think about legitimacy and domination, we
want to think about the individual and the office.
• To consider: Do individuals have legitimacy and
domination or is it the office (occupation/position)
that has legitimacy and domination?
• For example: Does a University President or Hospital
CEO or Sorority President have legitimacy or
domination or is it because they occupy a
position/office that grants them legitimacy and
domination?
The belief systems on which valid
commands issuing from authority
figures are based.
DOMINIATION
The probability that certain specific
commands (or all commands) will
be obeyed by a given group of
persons.
Authority
Weber was also interested in how
political and social systems
maintained their domination.
Weber uses his concept of ideal
types to theorize about different
forms of AUTHORITY⎯ having the
ability to “rightfully exercise
domination over others.
Weber’s ideal types of AUTHORITY:
RATIONAL-LEGAL
TRADITIONAL
CHARISMATIC
Remember that these three are
conceptual tools that real world
examples are compared to.
Rational-legal authority is based on,
“the rule of rationally established laws”
Rational-Legal
Authority
• Unlike traditional and charismatic forms
authority is given to an office or position.
The position has the authority
• Individuals follow the ”rules” because of a
belief in the system.
• The belief in the sanctity of formal rules and
laws and a legally appointed leader
Example: Elected offices
Traditional authority is based on the sanctity
of old rules and powers
Traditional
Authority
• Domination and legitimacy are granted to the
person not the office or position.
• Based on tradition or customs that justifies
the position of the individual who is in
charge.
• Individuals follow the “rules” because that is
the way that it has always been
Example: Monarchies
Charismatic authority is “resting on devotion
to the exceptional sanctity, heroism, or
exemplary character of an individual person”
Charismatic
Authority
• As with traditional authority, legitimacy and
domination are given to the person not the
office or position
• There are no established structures that are
followed. Individuals follow the “rules”
because of the characteristics of the person
and followers obey based on belief in the
individual.
Example: Cult Leaders
Bureaucracy
1925
“The decisive reason for the advance of bureaucratic
organization has always been its purely technical superiority
over any other form of organization.” (p.194)
Bureaucracy
Weber theorizes that bureaucracy is the
dominant form of social organization in the
modern world.
BUREAUCRACY
• An organization based on impersonal
standardized rules and procedures
implemented by separate, hierarchically
ordered positions dedicated to performing
specialized tasks.
Modern bureaucratic organizations typically have the following
features:
Characteristics
of Modern
Bureaucracies
• Offices are organized by rules (laws and administrative
regulations).
• Offices are organized into a hierarchical system, where there is a
clear delineation of higher offices and lower offices and those in
the higher office are in charge of those in the lower office.
• The management (administrative acts, decisions, and rules) are
formulated and recorded in writing.
• Office management requires workers to have technical
qualifications in the area that they are working in.
• The office requires the full working capacity of the individual.
• The management of the office follows general rules.
Additionally, workers or staff do not own the means of production
and the position always remains part of the organization. Meaning
that if an individual leaves an organization or office the position still
exists. When you leave a job, the position remains open until it is
filled by a new worker.
Think about it…
• Is it possible to only focus on the individual when thinking about the social world?
Does the collective (the group; social structure) help us to theorize about the
individual?
• What inspires Social Change? Do you agree with Marx, that economic class conflict
inspires social change or with Weber, that attitudes inspire social change? Why?
• How is religion linked to Capitalism?
• Where are the different forms of power identified by Weber seen in society today?
• What form of legitimacy/domination do we see most often in the social world? Why
do you think that is the case?
• How is the US government organized?
• Which type of legitimacy/domination do you believe is the most stable? Why?
• Weber suggests that bureaucracies are technically superior. What might this mean?
Think about this, do you agree? Disagree?
• What might be the benefits to bureaucracy? Disadvantages?
REVIEW
• IDEAL TYPES are conceptual tools developed by social scientists that real life concepts can be
compared to. This concept will be useful when reading about domination and bureaucracy.
• VERSTEHEN is a sociologist’s ability to understand social phenomenon through their own perspective.
• SOCIAL ACTION occurs when individuals attach meaning to their actions (which helps us understand
why people do what they do).
• 4 TYPES of Social Action: Instrumental – Rational; Value – Rational; Traditional, and Affective.
• RATIONALIZATION is an ongoing process in which social interaction and institutions become
increasingly governed by methodical procedures and calculable rules. Links to The Protestant Ethic and
the Spirit of Capitalism.
• IRON CAGE is when individuals become increasingly trapped by systems of rules, technology, and
control
• AUTHORITY is having the ability to “rightfully exercise domination over others.
• 3 TYPES of Authority: Rational-Legal; Traditional; and Charismatic
• Weber theorizes that bureaucracy is the dominant form of social organization in the modern world.
YouTube Videos:
Émile Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
• French Sociologist
• Inspired by Auguste Comte (1798-1857) and
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
• He focused on the method of studying the
social world scientifically
• Founded the first sociology journal L’Année
Sociologique
• Publications
• The Division of Labor in Society (1893)
• The Rules of Sociological Method (1895)
• Suicide: A Study in Sociology (1897)
• The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
(1912)
1858-1917
Key Concepts
Durkheim believed that SOCIAL BONDS and sense of community had broken down
and social disorder had come to prevail.
SOCIAL FACTS – Conditions and circumstances external to the individual that determine the individual’s
course of action.
SUI GENERIS – An objective reality that is uniquely complex to the individuals that compose it
SOCIAL SOLIDARITY – Feelings of “oneness” of a group
ANOMIE – Weakness of moral regulation
COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE – Totality of beliefs common to citizens of the same society that forms a
system that has a life of its own.
The Method – The Analysis of Social Facts
• Durkheim believes the social world can be studied using
rigorous scientific methods.
• This emphasis on formal methods and objective data is what
distinguished sociology from philosophy.
The Social System
• Durkheim is concerned with the cohesion of social groups and
social solidarity and how the social world shapes social solidarity.
• Durkheim believes that society shapes and influences the choices
that individuals make, therefore, Durkheim does not emphasize
the importance of the individual in his writings.
• Durkheim assumes that collective life emerges in social interaction
The Division of Labor
in Society
1893
“…the division of labor…tends to become the essential
condition of social solidarity.” (p.110)
Social Cohesion
Durkheim was
interested in analyzing
and understanding the
cohesion of social
groups and the
development of norms.
Durkheim theorizes that:
• Social integration is
rooted in a shared moral
code (think shared
norms).
• This moral code forms
the basis of societies.
Economic
Specialization
Durkheim was also
interested in modern
society and how the
changes in society as a
result of economic and
industrial development,
shifted social groups.
• Durkheim recognized that modern
industrial society was becoming more
economically specialized.
• Different individuals’ complete
different economic tasks/jobs.
• Unlike Marx, Durkheim theorized that this
division of labor or economic
specialization is not necessarily a negative
consequence of the advancement of
modern society.
• As a result of economic specialization
social solidarity is formed as individuals
come to rely on one another to complete
workplace tasks.
Example – Economic Specialization
Think of a hospital.
Not everyone has the same job, right?
The hospital has…
• Custodial
• Maintenance
• Doctors
• Medical Technologists
• Environmental Services
• Nurses
• Human Resources
• Physicians Assistants
• Kitchen
• Surgeons
• …and more…
MECHANICAL (Primitive Societies)
Social Solidarity
• Mechanical solidarity is typified by feelings
of likeness.
The cohesion of social groups
• This type of solidarity is characteristic of
small, traditional societies.
Durkheim also theorized that SOCIAL SOLIDARITY arose
in two different ways depending on the type of society
that was being studied.
Durkheim theorizes that:
• The DIVISION OF LABOR is the chief source of SOCIAL
SOLIDARITY in modern societies; especially as
societies are less reliant on religion.
• The individual becomes aware of their dependence
on society, as the individual is a part of the whole and
has a position to fill.
• Therefore, the group is more important than the
individual.
• Solidarity is a result of everyone
completing the same task and as a result
feeling cohesion in the group because
everyone completes the same task.
ORGANIC (Modern Societies)
• Organic solidarity refers to a type of
solidarity in which each person is
interdependent to others, forming a
complex web of cooperation.
• Organic solidarity develops from the
cultivation of individual differences
and individuals knowing that they are
completing their part for the good of
the entire society.
Anomie
However, Durkheim also theorizes a
negative consequence of economic
specialization: ANOMIE.
ANOMIE is the lack of moral regulation
can be a product of the overspecialization
of labor
• Individuals become isolated in their
economic tasks and no longer feel
interdependent or connected to the
collective group/society.
In societies that are characterized by mechanical
solidarity there is a clear understanding of acceptable
behavior.
• Everyone performs the same tasks and
understands what to do.
A normal division of labor exists only when the
specialization of tasks is not exaggerated.
Durkheim theorizes that if the division of labor is pushed
too far (becomes too specialized), then there is a danger
for the individual to become isolated in their economic
activity.
• Individuals become isolated and disconnected from
others around them, thus experience ANOMIE.
• Durkheim theorizes that that the division of labor
should give rise to social cohesion and social solidarity,
however the forced division of labor could give rise to
anomie.
The Rules of the
Sociological Method
1895
“We realize that these feelings have been impressed upon us
to a much greater extent than they were created by us.”
(p.115)
Durkheim makes THREE POINTS key
points in The Rules of the Sociological
Method:
Three Key Points
1. Sociology is a distinct field of study
2. The social world can be studied and
analyzed by using the same rigorous
scientific methods as used in the
natural sciences
3. Sociology is NOT the same as
psychology, which is the study of
the individual and the mind.
Sociology IS the study of SOCIAL
FACTS.
SOCIAL FACTS can be identified in two
ways:
Social Facts
1. Occurring throughout a given society
2. Any action or “coercive power”
capable of being exercised over
individuals
• Thus, SOCIAL FACTS determine
the choices an individual makes.
SOCIAL FACTS can be studied empirically
via data collection and by using the
scientific method
BREAK
This would be a good point to take a
few minutes to let what you just
learned settle in your mind.
Stand up and Stretch.
Suicide: A Study in Sociology
1897
“There is a relation between the way this regulative action is
performed and the social suicide-rate.” (p.123)
Suicide
• Durkheim theorizes that suicide is best
examined and understood in the context of
social solidarity in a particular society.
In Durkheim’s work Suicide he
theorizes why suicide may be more
frequent in societies that are
organized by organic solidarity.
• Durkheim examined a phenomenon that most
people think of as an intensely individual
act—suicide—and suggested that suicide has
social rather than psychological (individual)
causes.
He also theorizes that the types of
suicide that occurs varies as well.
• Durkheim also demonstrates that patterns in
society, such as suicide rates, are rooted in
social conditions and can be studied by using
scientific methods.
ALTRUISTIC SUICIDE
Types of Suicide
In Traditional Society
INTEGRATION IN SOCIETY
• Integration in society is the degree to which
collective sentiments are shared as well as the
social relations which tie individuals to a group.
• Too much or too little integration may lead to
suicide.
REGULATION BY SOCIETY
• Regulation by society is the degree of external
constraints on individuals, including normative
or moral demands (Social Norms).
• Too little regulation may lead to suicide.
• When institutions undergo periods of
change individuals don’t know what to do
Occurs when the individual gives
their life for the social group.
EGOISTIC SUICIDE
Result of too little social
integration
FATALISTIC SUICIDE
Rooted in hopelessness
EGOISTIC SUICIDE
Types of Suicide
In Modern Society
Durkheim suggested that in modern societies there was
a lack of integration of the individual in the social group.
• Individuals become isolated in their economic tasks
and have no feelings of likeness with others.
Durkheim identified two main characteristics of modern,
industrial society
• Weakened social ties
EGOISM – lack of integration into the social
group
• Weakened moral regulation
ANOMIE – the absence of moral regulation
Occurs when the cohesion and solidarity of
the group or the community has declined so
that the individual cannot rely upon the
community.
• Social support is lacking
• The individual feels no connection to
larger society
Egoistic suicide is a result of TOO LITTLE
INTEGRATION
ANOMIC SUICIDE
Occurs when there is a breakdown of the
moral regulations in a community.
• When there is a debate over the agreed
upon social norms
• Moral regulation may decrease during
times of great change
• Individuals lose a connection to the
appropriate way to act
Anomic suicide is a result of TOO LITTLE
REGULATION.
The Elementary Forms of
Religious Life
1912
“…religious force is nothing other than the collective and
anonymous forces…”(p.133)
• Durkheim used religion to explain the moral realm
Religion
• Durkheim was concerned with the function of religion
• Which is to convert the sentiments and ideas that
hold the group together
• Durkheim saw society as the “something greater”
• Durkheim does not see difference between the
“religious” and “secular” because he is concerned with
the shared meanings and communal practices of both
types of events
BOTH are collective celebrations of identity and
community
Key Concepts
• Categories of Religion
“Beliefs” include – states of opinion, representations/symbols, and thought (intangible)
“Rites” include – practices and action (tangible)
Ritual – routinized act that creates communion
• These common experiences are what bind members together as “one”
• They could be “religious” or “secular”
• Symbols and Rituals
Profane – the mundane, the “everyday world”, no meaning
Sacred – the “extraordinary”, set apart, “above and beyond” the everyday world, has meaning
Religion
• Categories of Religion
• “Beliefs” include – states of opinion, representations/symbols, and thought (intangible)
• “Rites” include – practices and action (tangible)
• Ritual – routinized act that creates communion
• These common experiences are what bind members together as “one”
• Symbols and Rituals
Sacred – the “extraordinary”, set apart, “above and beyond” the everyday world, has meaning
Profane – the mundane, the “everyday world”
Example – Lighting a candle
Profane
Sacred
Think about it…
• Remember that to Durkheim, the division of labor is the main source of social
solidarity.
• How does the division of labor create social solidarity?
• How might societies that are characterized by organic solidarity have shared values,
morals, and social norms?
• How is anomie a condition of modern/developed societies?
• What are some examples of SOCIAL FACTS?
• Can we understand suicide in the context of a given time period to better understand
patterns and societies? If so, how?
• The lack of moral regulation in modern societies is especially prevalent in times of
intense social and personal change.
• Think about the United States in 2020/2021, how would we characterize the
moral regulation of social institutions?
• How can both “religious” and “secular” rituals create social solidarity?
REVIEW
• Durkheim focuses on HOW to study the social world scientifically
• Durkheim is concerned with the cohesion of social groups and social solidarity and how the social world shapes
social solidarity.
• Unlike Marx, Durkheim believed social solidarity could be a result of economic specialization
• TWO forms of social solidarity: MECHANICAL and ORGANIC
• OVERSPECIALIZATION causes ANOMIE
• THREE key points to the Sociological Method: distinct field; can be analyzed; study of social facts
• Durkheim defined and measured SOCIAL FACTS
• Durkheim suggests that suicide has social causes
• There are FOUR types of Suicide: altruistic, fatalistic, egoistic, and anomic
• Durkheim was concerned with the FUNCTION of religion and did not see differences between the “religious” and
the “secular” as both create shared meanings and communal practice
YouTube Videos:
586826
research-article2015
ABSXXX10.1177/0002764215586826American Behavioral ScientistBonilla-Silva
Introduction
The Structure of Racism in
Color-Blind, “Post-Racial”
America
American Behavioral Scientist
2015, Vol. 59(11) 1358­–1376
© 2015 SAGE Publications
Reprints and permissions:
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0002764215586826
abs.sagepub.com
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva1
Abstract
In this article, I describe the racial order of America in the post–Civil Rights era.
First, I discuss what racism is all about and emphasize the centrality of conceiving
the phenomenon in a structural way. Second, I argue that the “new racism,” or the
set of mostly subtle, institutional, and seemingly nonracial mechanisms and practices
that comprise the racial regime of “post-racial” America, has all but replaced the
old Jim Crow order. Third, I describe the racial ideology of color-blind racism and
its component parts (i.e., frames, style, and racial stories) and contend that, like the
racial order, this new ideology is slippery and has a “beyond race” character. Fourth,
I explain that the Obama moment is part of the new racism, color-blind period and
justify my claim empirically. I conclude this essay pondering if people of color will
wake up and realize that the new, more “civil” way of maintaining and justifying racial
things is a more formidable way of maintaining racial domination.
Keywords
structure, color-blind racism, post-racial
Introduction
My career has been strange to say the least. Although over the last 8 to 10 years, things
have been relatively good for me, I did not get much love for years. In fact, the ruling
sociological elite labeled me early on as a “race man”1 because of the stand I took on an
American Sociological Association dispute2 and this labeling, I learned later, seriously
affected my career. But all Goliaths eventually meet their Davids, and thankfully, as in
1Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Corresponding Author:
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Duke University, Box 90088, 268i Sociology/Psychology Building, Durham,
NC 27708, USA.
Email: ebs@soc.duke.edu
Bonilla-Silva
1359
all systems of domination, the “wretched of the (in this case, sociological) earth are
more numerous and can produce victories despite Goliaths’ might.” In my case, after
years of punishment (and, again, I was unaware of some of it until years later), a few
good things began happening for me. I was elected to American Sociological
Association Council, landed a job at Duke University, won several major awards, and
wrote a very successful and influential book. And now am honored that some colleagues decided to put together this special issue on “The Mechanisms of Color-Blind
Racism and the Racialized Social System” to highlight the significance of some of my
work.3
Since this issue is on my work, I want to give readers a synopsis of my theoretical
claims. Along the way I will also add a few wrinkles about the limitations of my theorization on racial matters as well as the limitations of some other colleagues who have
worked in developing racial theory in the past 30 years. To accomplish this task, I will
do the following. First, recap my take on racism as no discussion on race can work
unless we agree on the fact that it is “racism” that creates and maintains “race”; the real
issue (in the Lacanian sense of the word) is not race but racism as “[r]acism is what
hurts” (Mitchell, 2012, p. 17). Second, highlight the general characteristics of the
racial regime that emerged in the late 1960s to early 1970s, which I have referred to in
my work as the “New Racism.” Third, briefly explain the nature of color-blind racism,
or the dominant racial ideology of the post–Civil Rights era. And last, explain how all
these things form “the structure of racism” and venture a few hypotheses on how racism is working and will likely work in our new, “post-racial” climate.
What Is Racism?
I remain critical of the casual, common sense way most social scientists treat categories such as “racism” and “race” (Bonilla-Silva, 1997, 2008). Much like the population
at large, social scientists use these terms as if they were self-evident. We regard racism
as the belief that some people are better than others because of their race and conceive
“race,” the presumed foundation of all racial woes in the world, as primarily a biological or cultural category easy to read through marks in the body (phenotype) or the
cultural practices of groups.4 But this conceptual mapping is ahistorical (why do we
have racism in the first place and why do we still have it today?) and self-serving
(White social scientists believe they are beyond race as they do not subscribe to crass
prejudicial views about racial minority groups; Bonilla-Silva & Baiocchi, 2008). Racism
is the product of racial domination projects (e.g., colonialism, slavery, labor migration,
etc.), and once this form of social organization emerged in human history, it became
embedded in societies (Bonilla-Silva, 2001; Robinson, 2000). Racism produced (and
continues to produce) “races” out of peoples who were not so before, whether one is
thinking of the various nationalities and peoples from Europe who shed (somewhat)
their regional, tribal, and local identities and slowly became “White” (Jacobson, 1999;
Painter, 2010); the aboriginal peoples of the Americas who became “Indian” (Forbes,
1993); or the multiple ethnic and tribal groups from the African continent who became
“Black” (Wright, 2004). This is the foundation for the now-accepted claim by most
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American Behavioral Scientist 59(11)
social scientists that race is a “socially constructed” category or the “weaving of disparate elements into a complex and shifting totality” (Mitchell, 2012, p. 17).
But what kind of social organization is racism? What kind of social form produces
the social groups we know as “races”? I have argued that racism should be conceived
in materialist rather that idealist fashion. That is, that racism is above anything, about
practices and behaviors that produce a racial structure—a network of social relations
at social, political, economic, and ideological levels that shapes the life chances of the
various races. This structure is responsible for the production and reproduction of
systemic racial advantages for some (the dominant racial group) and disadvantages for
others (the subordinated races). Thus, racism as a form of social organization places
subjects in common social locations. As subjects face similar experiences, they
develop a consciousness, a sense of “us” versus “them” (Bonilla-Silva, 2001, p. 62;
see also Jenkins, 1997). This is why I stated in my American Sociological Review
(hereafter ASR) piece that “(a)fter the process of attaching meaning to a ‘people’ is
instituted, race becomes a real category of group association and identity” (BonillaSilva, 1997, p. 472). In this sense, racism and races have a material foundation.5 Races
are indeed invented social categories, but they are socially real and reenacted in the
everyday life in encounters in all sorts of situations and spaces. Again, as I pointed out
in the original piece:
Although the content of racial categories changes over time through manifold processes
and struggles, race is not a secondary category of group association. The meaning of
black and white, the “racial formation,” changes within the larger racial structure.
(Bonilla-Silva, 1997, p. 472)
The mutability and even instability of the category “race” is not unique to this category
as all social categories (e.g., gender, class, etc.) are socially rather than biologically
real (McIntosh, 2013); hence, they all are subject to change. To be clear, although race
is a socially produced classification scheme (e.g., who is Black, White, Indian, or
anything changes over time and varies from society to society), races are meaningful
categories because as W. I. Thomas and Dorothy Thomas stated a long time ago, they
are “real in their consequences” (Thomas & Thomas, 1928, p. 571).
All these elements were foundational to my alternative interpretation of racism,
which I labeled the racialized social system approach, the term I used to refer to “societies in which economic, political, social, and ideological levels are partially structured by the placement of actors in racial categories or races” (Bonilla-Silva, 2001,
p. 37). I called for analysts studying racialized societies6 to spend less time studying
the racial attitudes of people and more examining the “specific mechanisms, practices,
and social relations that produce and reproduce racial inequality at all levels” (BonillaSilva, 2001, p. 48). This was the essence of my 1997 ASR article and my restatement
in 1999 (Bonilla-Silva, 1999), but in retrospect, I wish I had spent more time explaining that racism as “ideology” is also material and consequential.7 But at the time I
wrote my piece, I felt the need to emphasize the material aspects of racism as the
mainstream was (and still is) focusing almost all its attention on the psychology of
Bonilla-Silva
1361
racism, that is, on the study of prejudice. Like Marx and Engels, I regret the one-sidedness in my earlier work,8 but hope that my later work on racial ideology—both theoretical and empirical (see Note 7)—is evidence of my belief of the centrality, and
indeed, materiality of ideology in the making of race in our lives.
Why do I say that racism as ideology is also material and consequential? Because
ideology, racial or otherwise, is intrinsically connected to domination as Marx and
Engels (1975) argued in The German Ideology. Ideology9 is a material force and consequential as we are all “interpellated” by it (Althusser, 1972); without “racial ideology” or racism (Bonilla-Silva, 2001), Europeans could not have conquered, enslaved,
and exploited people based on the claim that some people are different (better) than
others (Hall, 1997). And racialized societies could not survive without the existence of
a dominant racial ideology, as it fulfills five vital social functions: (1) accounting for
the existence of racial inequality; (2) providing basic rules on engagement in interracial interactions; (3) furnishing the basis for actors’ racial subjectivity; (4) shaping and
influencing the views of dominated actors; and (5) by claiming universality, hiding the
fact of racial domination—that is, hiding the fact that a racial order is in place that
benefits a racial group (for details on each of these functions, see Chapter 3 in my book
White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Right Era).
Hence, racial ideology, one may say, is co-constitutive of all racial domination
projects. The prejudice of individuals10 is not, and can never be, the basis for maintaining racial inequality; without an ideology to justify and enable racial projects, racial
domination would not be possible at all. This is because variations on the level and
kind of prejudice among the individuals in a population would produce randomness in
racial outcomes and, hence, domination would be contingent; the fact that racial domination is reproduced in everyday life in (mostly) consistent fashion reflects the fact
that (most) actors follow the “path of least resistance” (Johnson, 2006) and behave as
expected. Of course, not all actors comply with the rules of engagement and follow the
racial etiquette of a society, which is why social control strategies and sanctions against
transgressors are always part of any racial order. But it is because some actors do not
play the game that the system is ultimately unstable and subject to change (I will say
bit more on this later in this article).
The New Racism
Since the late 1970s, most race scholars and activists have had a hard time articulating
a coherent case for how race matters. Although we have plenty of data showing race
inequality, we do not have a strong position to explain why this is the case. Those who
rely on the racism-as-prejudice view (the majority of social scientists) have to contend
with the systematic decline in Whites’ old-fashioned prejudice (Schuman, 1997). If
prejudice is declining, how can they explain the contemporary level of racial inequality and the Black–White attitudinal divide on so many race-related matters? Those
who rely on the racism-as-discrimination view have to contend with the fact that oldfashioned, Jim Crow–type discrimination has been waning for years. Although we can
point to a new type of prejudice, as Bobo, Kluegel, and Smith (1997), Sears (1988),
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American Behavioral Scientist 59(11)
Pettigrew (1994), and others do, and to a new type of discrimination, we lack a place
to pin these new developments as we can no longer legitimately claim we live in Jim
Crow America. This means that we lack a claim about the existence of a racial regime
in post–Civil Rights America that is responsible for the prevailing racial ideology and
practices. Lacking this systemic claim, our efforts to explain racial matters in the contemporary period seem like Don Quixote fighting windmills and leave those who
believe that we have, for the most part, reached racial Nirvana look like Sancho—as
“objective” commentators stating facts about race in contemporary America.
For about 20 years, I have been claiming that the end of Jim Crow racism did not
mean the end of systemic racism. I have argued that the virtual end11 of Jim Crow in
the 1970s did not mean the “end of racism” (D’Souza, 1995) or even the “declining
significance of race” (Wilson, 1978). Instead, I claim that slowly but surely a new
system emerged tht I labeled the “new racism.”12 By this I mean the system or racial
structure characteristic of the post–Civil Rights era comprised the following elements:
(1) the increasingly covert nature of racial discourse and practices, (2) the avoidance
of direct racial terminology, (3) the elaboration of a racial political agenda that eschews
direct racial references, (4) the subtle character of most mechanisms to reproduce
racial privilege, and (5) the rearticulation of some racial practices of the past (BonillaSilva, 2001). This system emerged because of four main reasons, namely, (1) Blacks
(the main focus of the racial order until the 1960s) moved out of the South making the
principal tactics of social control no longer useful; (2) the Soviet Union used in international forums the way minorities were treated to challenge the United States’ selfdescription as a beacon of democracy; (3) enlightened capitalists, frightened by the
civil rights movement and race riots, supported changing the way racial business was
conducted; and (4) the social protests by Blacks, Chicanos, American Indians, and
other minority groups demanded change.
In this new racism, Blacks and Whites remain mostly separate and unequal in many
areas of social life. Here, I only illustrate new racism “discrimination”13 in the areas
of housing and the economy although similar practices have been documented in
other venues and areas of life (Bonilla-Silva & Dietrich, 2011). First, in terms of
housing, residential segregation nowadays is almost as pronounced as in the past
(Massey & Denton, 1993) even though some of the segregation is not even captured
by the indices we use (Bonilla-Silva & Baiocchi, 2008). The practices associated with
residential segregation during the Jim Crow period are currently illegal (Picca &
Feagin, 2007), yet segregation persists because discrimination in the housing and
lending markets remains. Blacks and Latinos experience discrimination in forms
such as steering by realtors, receiving a disproportional number of subprime loans net
of their credit worthiness, and being given differential information about the availability of housing units.14 These practices illustrate new style discrimination because
all of them are hard to detect and even harder to label “racial.” We know about all of
them mostly because of audit studies and not due to reports from the victims of discrimination. In fact, most of the minority participants in these studies did not even
realize they had experienced discrimination until they compared notes with their
White counterparts!
Bonilla-Silva
1363
The growth of the Black middle class is commonly cited as evidence of post-racialism, although even this segment still experiences discrimination in their everyday lives
(Feagin & Sikes, 1994; Wingfield, 2013). However, the “Black majority” (Marable,
1983) has not advanced much. They still face obstacles entering the labor market, in their
wage earnings, and in occupational mobility. Blacks earn less than Whites at every educational level (Day & Newburger, 2002) and remain overrepresented among unskilled
workers (Pomer, 1986; Waddoups, 1991) while still being underrepresented in managerial positions. The primary reason for this state of affairs is occupational race-typing and
the new kind of invisible employer discrimination documented by researchers such as
William Julius Wilson (1997) and Devah Pager (2007; Pager & Quillian, 2005).
On the wealth front, Blacks and Latinos fared the worst during the recent financial
crisis (Lui, 2006; Taylor, Kochhar, Fry, Velasco, & Motel, 2011) exacerbating the gap
already present (e.g., Blacks used to have 1/10th the net worth of whites [Oliver &
Shapiro, 2006] and now have 1/20th). According to a recent Current Population
Report,15 in 2010, 13% of Whites were poor compared to 27.4% of Blacks and 26.5%
of Latinos. Black average income decreased to $32,229 in 2011, a loss of $6,000.
While Whites’ incomes also decreased, they still earned on average $20,000 more than
Blacks. And focusing only on income convergence, like many social scientists do,
masks the serious trends affecting minority populations, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed. The overall unemployment rate in October 2012 was 7.9%,
yet Whites’ unemployment was 7%, while Latinos was 10% and Blacks 14.3%.16
These income differences can be attributed to unequal levels of educational attainment, as well as lesser rates of return to Blacks for their education and labor-market
experience, and their concentration in the South.17 Furthermore, in the job search process, Blacks are left behind because they are closed out of informal networks and they
are commonly screened out by tests that do not measure much (see Chapter 4 in my
White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era [2001]).
To conclude, my argument in this section is that racial inequality is still produced
in a systematic way (i.e., there is still a racial structure in America), but that the dominant practices that produce it are no longer overt, seem almost invisible, and are seemingly nonracial. Accordingly, given the character of contemporary discrimination,
people of color must bring along a White friend to go shopping (Schreer, Smith, &
Thomas, 2009), get a loan (Pager & Shepherd, 2008), drive a car (Walker, Spohn, &
DeLone, 2000), or walk in the streets (Coviello & Persico, 2013) to prove discrimination! In addition, the new (racial) order of things has placed the community of scholars
and activists fighting against racism at a disadvantage as most still focus their attention
on Jim Crow–type events (Pinkney, 1984). What we need is to understand that since
the new system works differently, we need to change our research focus and even our
politics or else our efforts will become increasingly irrelevant (Bonilla-Silva, 2013).
The (White) Color of Color-Blindness
Alongside this “new racism,” a new dominant racial ideology emerged that I have
labeled as �…
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