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Doing Intersectionality Research: From Conceptual Issues to Practical Examples

  • Evelyn M. Simien (a1)

Abstract

Research interrogating the simultaneity of oppression in American politics is rare. Political scientists, as compared to scholars of other disciplines, have paid far less attention to the ways in which race and gender operate in tandem to produce and maintain the unequal distribution of power and privilege in the American political system. Far too often, political scientists have treated race and gender as separate, dichotomous variables in regression models that employ either/or versus both/and identity categorizations. That is to say, political science as a discipline historically has had limited relevance and prescriptive utility for individuals and groups that confront interlocking systems of oppression, as it has largely ignored the intersection (or interaction) of race, class, and gender in American politics. For example, political scientists have seldom studied those who struggle with dual identity—specifically, African-American women—with a critical eye attentive to the ways in which race, gender, and class shape their public opinion and political behavior, as well as election campaigns and legislative decisions. Feeling called upon to both articulate and translate the complexities of life for African-American women, scholars from Jewel Prestage and Mae King to Linda Williams and Shelby Lewis have played a critical role in bringing to the academic fore the study of intersecting patterns of discrimination, as they unveiled a “portrait of marginality” and provided the theoretical framework on which intersectionality research is based today. The recent publication of several books and articles on and by African-American women in political science clearly attests to this fact (see, for example, Berger 2004; Hancock 2004; Jordan-Zachery 2003; Simien 2006; Smooth 2006). These works, concentrating as they do on race and gender, are excellent examples of intersectionality research authored by political scientists.

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Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
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