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tyler cowen discusses intersectionality

Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler discusses intersectionality. For example:

3. Marginalized or minority communities may themselves exhibit prejudice against other non-conformities (for instance, some parts of the Jamaican community seem to be especially biased against gay individuals).  That can make it harder for persons with multiple non-conformities to find allies.

This is right. The origin of intersectionality theory is in feminist political discussions, where women of color often complained that white women didn’t appreciate their particular position and grievances. But I think intersectionality’s insight is simpler: interaction effects and context dependent effects. When I teach intersectionality, I use the category “Black men.” Being an ethnic minority is often a disadvantage, while being male is often an advantage. It depends a lot on context. E.g., work vs. family.

Even though the term originates in political discussions, it encapsulates a fairly basic concept – identity is complex, it is activated by context, and it can be subtle. I sure wish it hadn’t become a catch phrase because it is a useful idea.

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Written by fabiorojas

August 16, 2018 at 4:28 am

Posted in uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. The comments section is about as disgusting as you’d expect from MR, too.

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    ZC

    August 16, 2018 at 3:10 pm

  2. I’ve been thinking of alternative terms to use in place of intersectionality. As you point out, it’s become too much of a buzz word to be useful in serious discourse. I’ve seen some comparativists refer to “double minorities”, ethnic groups living in enclaves within another minority ethnic group’s enclave. Any suggestions?

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    Michelangelo Landgrave

    August 16, 2018 at 8:39 pm

  3. “intersectionality’s insight is simpler: interaction effects and context dependent effects.” Yes and no. Seems to me that the original call for intersectionality isn’t just an interaction effect, but to listen to and give voice to and validate the lived experiences of marginalized people. I’ve read a lot of Black women’s critiques of the over-generalization and watering-down of intersectionality arguments.

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    olderwoman

    August 17, 2018 at 2:09 pm

  4. @olderwoman: “the original call for intersectionality isn’t just an interaction effect, but to listen to and give voice to and validate the lived experiences of marginalized people”

    To wit, the term “intersectionality” was never and can never be a theoretical concept for sociological analysis, it’s purpose is to serve ideological/political ends for people perceiving themselves as marginalized.

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    anon

    August 18, 2018 at 6:38 pm


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