Soc 611

Fall 2007


Race, Class, and Gender: Andersen, Hill-Collins (eds.)

This race, class, and gender reader is part of a movement within sociology to combine race, gender, and class analysis in a largely qualitative, interdisiplinary or transdisciplinary (social if not social science and at time historical but certainly not social science history) approach to the problem of difference. The guiding assumption is that all of those who do race, class and gender tend to privilege one of these at the expense of others (Wright and I on class, for example) or attempt to encompass all of these into a hyper-theoretical or meta-structural methodological approach (like Tilly or Wright or Grusky) that does not capture the differences, particularly as these experienced by real live people who are gendered, racialized, and classed (or classified).

On Monday I browsed the readings and read some of them, including the introduction, most of introductory essays for the various sections, and a rather eclectic collection of essays, including:

Frye, "Oppression" (pp. 48-52)

Takaki, "A Diffferent Mirror" (pp. 52-65)

Yamato, "Something About the Subject Makes it Hard to Name" (pp. 90-94)

West, "Race Matters" (pp 119-124)

Langston, "Tired of Playing Monopoly?" (pp. 125-134)

Ehrenreich, "The Silenced Majority: Why the Average Working Person has Disappeared from American Media and Culture" (pp. 143-145)

Higgenbothom and Weber, "Moving Up with Kin and Community: Upward Social Mobility for Women" (pp. 156-167)

Baca et al. "Gender through the Prism of Difference" (pp. 168-176)

Lorde, "Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Defining Difference" (pp. 177-184)

Blood et al. "Understanding and Fighting Sexism: A Call to Men" (pp. 185-191)

Dill, "Our Mothers' Grief: Racial-Ethnic Women and the Maintenance of Families" (pp. 268-289)

Messner, "Masculinities and Athletic Careers" (pp. 347-360)

Garvey, "My Problem with Multi-cultural Education" (pp. 361-365)

Steinem, "If Men Could Menstruate" (pp. 365-367)

Snipp, "The First Americans" (pp. 368-375)

Schwartz and Rutter, "The Gender of Sexuality" (pp. 456-465)

Schwartz, "Getting Off on Feminism" (p. 488-496)

Perhaps I should make a few preliminary comments. First, many of these essays are short excerpts from longer works. Second, this reader is targeted for advanced undergraduate students in women's studies and other interdisciplinary courses. Third, many if not most of these authors are not "real" academics. Included is the former director of ethnic studies at Colorado (Ward Churchill), who was fired for his comments about the World Trade Center victims being "little Eichmans or, allegedly, for plagiarism and other violations of the academic canon.

Having made all of these disclaimers I still maintain that this body of work lacks the theoretical and methodological rigor that we find in Grusky and in the other recommended readings. This is popular priced social science or not social science at all. Many of the essays are interesting and some are even informative, but they generally lack the conceptual/theoretical rigor that allows for discussion of questions such as, "What is the relationship between race and gender inequality?" and lack the methodological rigor to sustain answers to such questions (even if the concepts were clearly defined).

This is, of course, simply my opinion.

What do you think?