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The Meaning of “Racism”

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This article explores the meanings of racism in the sociology of race/ethnicity and provides a descriptive framework for comparing theories of racism. The authors argue that sociologists use racism to refer to four constructs: (1) individual attitudes, (2) cultural schema, and two constructs associated with structural racism: (3) preexisting consequential inequalities, that is, racial dominance, and (4) processes that create or maintain racial dominance. The article compares this framework with a content and citation analysis of 1,037 sociology journal articles published from 1995 to 2015, a period stretching from a major call to renew sociological attention to racism, to the founding of the American Sociological Association journal, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. The authors find six communities organized around distinctive citations and using different meanings of racism. They conclude by pushing toward the question of what racism ought to mean by discussing the implications for both sociological research and public sociology.




Shiao, J., & Woody, A. (2020). The Meaning of “Racism.” Sociological Perspectives.

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