The conundrum of race in sociological analyses of culture

Authored by: Alford A. Young

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:


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Race has been central to the conflicts, inequalities, and hierarchies that constitute the structural dimensions of societies across the globe. In the latter decades of the twentieth century, sociologists and other scholars of race began exploring how race operates as an aspect of culture – expressed in traits, practices, attitudes, worldviews, and so forth – as much as (if not more than) an aspect of social structure. This being the case, this chapter explores sociology’s break from early understandings of race as a static dimension of social life and the move toward a logic based upon fluidity and dynamism. It considers how cultural analyses have addressed the transformation in racial categories and the meanings attached to them, and how cultural inquiry into racial identity, subjectivity, and representation has reshaped our understanding of everyday lived experience. It concludes by summarizing some of the key issues driving the cultural analysis of race both in the United States and worldwide.

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