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Popular notions of race have putative biological origins, but the mechanisms through which certain human characteristics come to represent categorical identities and differences have always been created by social, historical, and political processes. In the latter instance, we simply mean that racial signification is necessarily about power and, we might add, not simply the power of one group over another, but the power of any such group to collectively form a racial identity and organize in defense of it. In spite of this intimate connection between race and politics, the literature on race and the social construction of race on the one hand, and the literature on political sociology on the other, have largely developed independently and with little dialogue between them. This chapter explores the implicit and increasingly explicit connections between the two literatures with an eye to how race theory and state theory can inform one another.
First, we examine current constructivist theories of race and ethnicity, with special attention to issues concerning the political construction of race. Next, we argue that current research in the political sociology of race tends to ignore or deemphasize how states create and maintain racial identities. Race identities are typically viewed as the source of state-enforced racial policies, but are rarely seen as their effect. An examination of the social and political determinants of racial categories used by the U.S. Census provides a convenient illustration of how race identities are both causes and effects of state policies.
Politics and race have been intimately intertwined since the inception of notions of racial difference and the beginnings of race-based slavery at the dawn of the modern era. Moreover, race-conscious public policies constructed and reflected racial identities and inequalities since that time, creating what we have called “racial states” (James and Redding, this volume). The color-conscious policies of the past created race inequalities that are durable (Brown, 2003; Tilly, 1998). The current rush toward “race-neutral” or “color-blind” policies that tend to mask race inequalities emphasizes the importance of understanding how politics and race affect each other.
This chapter examines the literature on the causal linkages between race and public policy from the beginnings of race-based slavery to the present. Different theoretical understandings of the interactions between race and politics are important not only because of how they explain racial politics and policies of the past, but because they also shape our understanding of the racial dilemmas of the present. If one thinks that racism has been the primary motivator of racial exclusions and consequent racial inequalities, it may be easier to believe that eliminating racism and state-enforced color-conscious policies will cause racial inequalities to disappear as well. An allied or complementary perspective that views intraclass conflict between workingclass blacks and whites as the prime motivation for black exclusion and race inequalities may lead to color-blind policies that seek to mend intraclass divisions on the basis of universalistic, nonracial policies that serve working class interests as a whole.
The purpose of this paper is to provide a) data on USSR nonagricultural employment and its distribution by broad sectors of the economy, b) “explanatory” comments on employment trends, and c) descriptions of USSR employment classifications and statistics.
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