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Racism and Sexism: Socila Inequality

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Racism and Sexism: Social Inequality

LaToya M. Thompson

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Submitted:  December 6, 2016

Mentor:  Dr. Maya Corneille


Racism and Sexism: Social Inequality

A large percentage of the economic and social inequality experienced in most industrialized nations like the U.S., stems from organizations, particularly in the working everyday activities and organization of the work. Civil right and feminist reformers, as well as union activists have their demands rooted in this understanding. Various analyses of classes, at least after the 1974 Labor and Monopoly Capital dissection by Harry Braverman, have often conducted an examination of labor processes and doing of work, to gain a clear understanding of the production and perpetuation of these inequalities in classes (Burawoy, 1979). On the part of feminists, there have been studies on the organizational practices and gendering of organizations, for the comprehension of the continuance of the inequalities between men and women, in the face of several attempts to do away with such inequalities (Collinson & Hearn, 1996). Several scholars conducting studies on inequality among races, have conducted examinations of production in disparities in races in organizations of work, which fuel racial disadvantage and discrimination in the wider society (Brown et al., 2003).

A significant portion of the studies investigating the production of racial, class, and gender inequalities in various organizations has focused on either one of these segments or categories. There have been rare attempts to investigate these categories as complex and mutually reinforcing each other, or even as contradicting processes. Placing focus on any one of these categories almost inevitably oversimplifies and obscures other inter-penetrating realities.

An argument had been put forward by the feminist scholars of color, for about three decades, that much of the scholarship regarding feminism was concerned with middle-class women of white origin, and has ignored the reality that the gender category has a fundamental complication due to ethnicity/race and class, among other differences. Most feminist scholars of the white origin have also agreed with this argument (Hooks, 1984). It is possible to make criticisms of a similar nature regarding much of the theories and researches on questions of class and race. The racial factor, even when paired with ethnicity, encapsulates numerous social realities that are inflected by class and gender differences. The class factor also becomes complicated owing to multiple racialized and gendered differences. In concluding this line of thinking, research and theory on dominance, inequality, and oppression have to pay special attention to how class, gender, and race or ethnicity intersect with each other at least. The past 15 years have seen a wide acceptance of the need for analyses on the intersections of these phenomena, by feminist scholars of the white origin (Fenstermaker & West, 2002).

The way to develop or build this insight into conceptions of clarity on the working of how different dimensions or simultaneous processes that produce inequality have faced challenges and is a project that is ongoing (Knapp, 2005). Various approaches offer complementary perspectives regarding these complex processes. For instance, Leslie McCall (2005) uses large sets of data, and portrays how patterns of race, class, and gender inequality vary in accordance to the economic activity composition in different regions of the U.S. Another way, which is in contrast to the approach by McCall, is to look at particular organizations as well as the organization’s individual ongoing practical activities of work organization, while reproducing complex inequalities at the same time. The processes of organization that make up regimes of inequality, of course have a relation to the economic making of decisions, whose outcome is the dramatically varying regional and local configuration of inequality all across the U.S.

An exploration of the connections between particular regimes of inequality and the different economic decisions that impact on the local economies constitutes yet another approach to the complex interrelations. It is possible to develop an analysis of the regimes of inequality in organizations, by basing the analysis on numerous volumes of research on how work is organized, and the relations of power within the organizations. Suffice to say, race, class, and gender discrimination or inequality are all factors that go hand in hand.

On most occurrences, individuals who fall within the bracket of a minority race, genders, and class all at the same time, suffer the highest levels of discrimination, as compared to those who are a minority when it comes to only one of the categories of inequalities. It is impossible to study one of these factors, without studying the other factors and how they relate to each other in order to have a clear understanding of all the dynamics of different instances of discrimination. The attempt to do away with stereotypes in terms of race, class, and gender will only be successful if the causes are established and addressed, as well as other contributing factors. Otherwise, the strategies that would be formulated to address the different stereotypes would be ineffective, as they would be articulated from incomplete information. The strategies need to address discrimination in different categories.

Method

Participants

The study conducted three interviews, having three female participants. The first participant was Karen Draper aged 39 years old. She was a single, employed, African American female. The second participant was Nicole Washington aged 38 years old. Nicole was a single, full-time employed female of the African American race. The third and final participant was Brenda B. Shaw aged 62 years old. Shaw was a single female, who was retired but worked part-time, and was also an African American.

Procedure

The method of data collection was by interview. The interview of Nicole Washington and Karen Draper was conducted over the phone, while that of Brenda Shaw was a face-to-face one. The duration for each of the interviews was between 25 and 30 minutes. Prior to conducting the interviews, each of the interviewees were verbally informed of the background of the study, and asked for consent to be interviewed as participants of the study. In seeking their consent, the participants were given an overview of the questions they would be asked. The interviewees were then asked for consent to record their interview sessions in an audio format for purposes of writing the report, after which the files would be erased on completion of the paper. To make it easier for the interviewees to be at ease with participating in the study as interviewees, they were assured that their names would be changed while writing the paper, for purposes of ensuring anonymity for their security.

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