orgtheory.net

ray on race and organizations

When I was in grad school, I was theoretically aggravated. I was working on the emergence of Black Studies as an academic movement and I needed some theory to guide me. On the organizational side of things, neo-institutional theory was enough. But there was precious little on the topic of race in organizations, aside from some work on worker demography and the stream of stuff on affirmative action via Frank Dobbin.

It was enough, but I noticed that I was not alone in my perception that more could be done. As time passed, I saw a stream of other scholars add to this issue such as Amy Binder’s book in afro-centric curricula, Melissa Wooten’s book on HBCU’s and, later, Joyce Bell’s book on Black Power social workers and Ellen Berrey’s work on race in higher ed. Recently, ASR published Victor Ray’s assessment of this research area. It’s a very good article that pulls it all together to give you a set of tools that encapsulates some of the ways that race permeates organizational processes. Here’s the abstract:

Organizational theory scholars typically see organizations as race-neutral bureaucratic structures, while race and ethnicity scholars have largely neglected the role of organizations in the social construction of race. The theory developed in this article bridges these subfields, arguing that organizations are racial structures—cognitive schemas connecting organizational rules to social and material resources. I begin with the proposition that race is constitutive of organizational foundations, hierarchies, and processes. Next, I develop four tenets: (1) racialized organizations enhance or diminish the agency of racial groups; (2) racialized organizations legitimate the unequal distribution of resources; (3) Whiteness is a credential; and (4) the decoupling of formal rules from organizational practice is often racialized. I argue that racialization theory must account for how both state policy and individual attitudes are filtered through—and changed by—organizations. Seeing race as constitutive of organizations helps us better understand the formation and everyday functioning of organizations. Incorporating organizations into a structural theory of racial inequality can help us better understand stability, change, and the institutionalization of racial inequality. I conclude with an overview of internal and external sources of organizational change and a discussion of how the theory of racialized organizations may set the agenda for future research.

Download it and read the whole thing!

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Written by fabiorojas

March 20, 2019 at 4:12 am

Posted in uncategorized

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