Surveying the Battlefield: Reflections on the Reproductive Dynamics of Racism

Christopher Williams


The sociology of racism is marked by a wealth of studies devoted to explicating the consequences of racism for individuals, organizations, institutions, and even the fundamental processes by which societies come to be constituted. Some of this work has informed concrete efforts to improve the life chances of subordinate racialized groups. In contrast, however, less research has examined, specifically and systematically, the ideational and material conditions that facilitate the reproduction of racism. Given this analytical deficit, the aim of this article is to illustrate—theoretically, conceptually and empirically—how racism is reproduced by dominant systems of belief; capitalist structural arrangements that foster scarcities while fettering redistributive measures; and key decisions and non-decisions of power elites. Scholars of racism, many of whom are concerned with the practical implications of their work, can enhance their contributions to progressive praxis by granting greater attention to questions regarding the reproducibility of racism—how it keeps going along—in addition to longstanding foci on racism’s effects and cognate areas of inquiry.

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International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory | ISSN : 1916-2782