Race-Making, Race-Neutrality and Race-Consciousness
-- Research Focus 2012-2013
The production of racial categories, the classification of people within them, and the practical performance of those categories (subcultures, "styles," etc.) are complex processes. Racial distinctions link macro-level societal dynamics with micro-level ones. Thus demographic trends like discrimination and super-exploitation by race are connected to the production and inculcation of identity, as well as to the varieties of personal experience. The way we see ourselves and each other in racial terms is an outcome of the way local, national, and global social structures have been shaped by race and racism, both historically and in the present. Neighborhood, workplace, classroom, voting processes, media representation, ways of teaching and learning, and patterns of sickness and health, are all structured by race. Race-making is a continuous and comprehensive feature of everyday life and every social institution.
It is now common to claim that race is less salient than before in determining "life-chances" and identities, and such claims can be validated to some extent. In the aftermath of post-WWII racial reforms, decolonization, and major demographic shifts produced by migration, social policies and racial attitudes have become somewhat more inclusive, both in the United States and around the world. But are these changes profound or superficial? Both social stratification and cultural dynamics continue to operate along racial lines everywhere. "Race consciousness" continues to shape the allocation of resources; the deployment of political power; the organization of communities, interpersonal relationships, and the vicissitudes of personal identity. Race structures politics as well: the durability of race and ongoing reality of racism continue to inspire both movements for equality and social justice and efforts to reinforce inequality.
We encourage research that examines claims about race-neutrality ("colorblindness") versus race consciousness and their varied manifestations: in debates over assimilation, pluralism, multiculturalism, and racial democracy. This theme goes under a variety of headings around the world: racial "differentialism," multiculturalism, nonracialism, etc. Such matters as micro-macro linkages, popular cultural/mass media treatments of these issues, the potentialities and limits of race-neutrality, and the interaction of racial formation processes with racialized social structures will provide the parameters for our interests in this area.