Martha Gimenez, "Marxism and Class, Gender, Race: Rethinking the Trilogy"

April 1, 2017 | Author: Ross Wolfe | Category: N/A
Share Embed Donate


Short Description

Download Martha Gimenez, "Marxism and Class, Gender, Race: Rethinking the Trilogy"...

Description

Jean Ait Belkhir, Race, Gender & Class Journal

Marxism, and Class, Gender, and Race: Rethinking the Trilogy Author(s): Martha E. Gimenez Source: Race, Gender & Class, Vol. 8, No. 2, Marxism: Race, Gender, & Class (2001), pp. 23-33 Published by: Jean Ait Belkhir, Race, Gender & Class Journal Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41674970 . Accessed: 09/02/2014 17:28 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]

.

Jean Ait Belkhir, Race, Gender & Class Journal is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Race, Gender &Class.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Race,

Gender S Class: Volume 8, Number2, 2001 (23-33) Race, Gender & Class Website,www.suno.edu/sunorgc

/Marxism,

and and

Gender, ÛËTHINKING

Class, /Bice:

THE

TklLOGY

Martha E. Gimenez, University of Colorado

Sociology at Boulder

ofMarxism Abstract:Thispaperexaminesthesoundnessofcriticalassessments theviewthatMarxandMarxismare as an unassailableconclusion, whichpresent, of littleuse forthe studyof the connectionsbetweenclass, genderand race. to the prevailingview,Marx and Marxismare indeed Arguingthat,contrary theauthor betweenclass andidentities, therelationship forelucidating necessary and suggests oftheRace, Gender& Class perspective examinesthelimitations andclassed"interactions all "raced,gendered, thatthenamelesspowerunderlying needs theRGC perspective is noneotherthanclasspowerandthat,consequently, oftermstoname Marxismtogo beyondsemantics(e.g.,theendlessproliferation itsavowedtheoretical betweenclass,genderandrace) and fulfill theconnections and emancipatory objectives. Keywords:Marxism,class,gender,race

of Martha E. Gimenez is AssociateProfessorof Sociologyat theUniversity Colorado at Boulder.Address: Departmentof Sociology,Campus Bos 327, Universityof Colorado at Boulder Boulder CO 80309. Home page: Ph: (303) 492-7080,Fax: (303) 492-8878,E-mail: http://csf.colorado.edu/martha/ [email protected]

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

24

theTrilogy Rethinking

takenforgranted feature ofmostsocialsciencepublications today, is theritualcritiqueofMarxand especiallythoseaboutinequality, A Marxismin the processof introducing theoreticalalternatives intendedto remedyitsalleged"failures."This practicebecamepopularin early feminist literature: Marxand Marxistswerecriticizedfornotdevelopingan inof the oppressionof women, their "economism,""class depth analysis and "sex blind"categoriesof analysis. Soon afterit became reductionism," commonplace to assertthatMarxismwas also at faultforneglectingrace, theenvironment andpractically thatmattered demography, ethnicity, everything tothe"newsocialmovements" in theWest. As themovements died,scholarship informed theenergythatmighthavebeen bythosepoliticalconcernsflourished; spentin thepublicarenafoundexpressionin academicprograms (e.g., women's toincrease"diversity" in thecurriculum studies,racial/ethnic studies)andefforts and thepopulationof educationalinstitutions. PublicationofthejournalRace, Sex & Class (changedafterwards toRace, Gender& Class), in 1993,signaledthe ofthosepoliticaland intellectual interests intoa newsocialscience convergence as demonstrated perspectivethat soon acquiredenormousvisibility, by the ofjournalarticlesand bookswithrace, genderand class in their proliferation titles.This perspective, butnotexclusively putforth primarily bysocialscientists ofcolor,emergedas a reactiontofeminist theorieswhichneglectedracial/ethnic and class differences amongwomen,theoriesof racial/ethnic inequalitywhich as a correctiveto neglectedsexism among men of color and, predictably, Marxism'sallegedshortcomings. Forexample,JeanBelkhir,editorand founder ofRace, Sex & Class, prefacesan articleon thistopicas follows:"The "Failure" Of MarxismTo Develop AdequateTools and A ComprehensiveTheoryof GenderandClass Issuesis Undisputable" (Belkhir,1994:79). The list Ethnicity, ofputative"failures" couldbe as longas we wanteditto be butwhatwouldthat prove,beyondthefactthatMarx'sand Engels'politicaland theoretical priorities differedfromthose of contemporary social scientists? Less biased, albeit debatable,is the conclusionthat Marxism,althoughoffering"crucial and unparalleledinsights"into the operationof capitalism,"needsto developthe thestudyofracism,sexismand classism"(Belkhir, analyticaltoolstoinvestigate 1994: 79). To referto class as "classism"is, fromthe standpoint of Marxist "a deeplymisleadingformulation" theory, (Eagleton,1996:57; see also Kandal, 1995:143)becauseclass is notsimplyanotherideologylegitimating oppression; itdenotesexploitative relations betweenpeoplemediatedbytheirrelationstothe meansof production.Nevertheless, it is thecase thatneitherMarxnorEngels devotedtheintensity ofeffort to theinvestigation ofgenderand race (and other issues)thatwouldhavesatisfied today'scritics. It is (and anyliterature reviewwouldsupportthispoint)fareasierto emphasizetheir"sins"ofomissionand- in lightofcurrent politicalsensibilities - commission, thanitis touse theirtheoretical and methodological contributions totheorizeand investigate thoseaspectsofcapitalistsocialformations thattoday concernus. Notableexceptionsare Berberoglu(1994), who has examinedthe class forcesleadingtogenderandracialdivisionsin theU.S. working underlying to capitalaccumulation, and Kandal class, linkinggenderand racialoppression (1995), who has forcefully arguedfortheneed to avoid the racializationand

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

theTrilogy Rethinking

25

thesignificance feminization ofsocialconflicts whileminimizing oroverlooking ofclass. In thisessay,I intendtoarguethatMarxismdoescontaintheanalytical ofclass,genderandrace. toolsnecessary totheorizeanddeepenourunderstanding I intendcriticallyto examine,fromthe standpointof Marxisttheory,the argumentsforrace, genderand class studiesofferedby some of theirmain in the and limitations and demonstrating, proponents, assessingtheirstrengths and politicallynecessaryif the studyof process,thatMarxismis theoretically of class, genderand race is to achievemorethanthe endlessdocumentation in veryspecificcontexts in theirrelativesalienceandcombinedeffects variations and experiences. Race, Gender & Class as a Social Science Perspective of the Race, Gender& Class (RGC) Long beforethe popularization I suspectthatmostMarxistsociologists teachingsocialstratification perspective, werealreadyadeptpractitioners. For manyyears,forexample,theSectionon MarxistsociologyoftheAmericanSociologicalAssociationincludedinitsannual called mystudents' programa sessionon Class, Genderand Race. I certainly in twenty and othersubjects nineyearsofteachingsocial stratification attention, inwhichinequality livesareaffected tothefactthateverybody's matters, byclass, of structures (in additionto age and other sources genderand race/ethnic " inequality).We are,in Marx'sterms,"an ensembleofsocial relations (Marx, 1994: 100,emphasisadded),and we liveourlivesat thecoreoftheintersection of a numberof unequal social relationsbased on hierarchicallyinterrelated ofthecapitalistmodes structures definethehistorical which,together, specificity I and reproduction ofproduction and underlaytheirobservablemanifestations. inthewidespread inherent alsoroutinely calledstudents' attention totheproblems practiceofassumingtheexistenceofcommoninterests, ideologies,politics,and becauseclasslocation,andsociobasedon gender,raceandethnicity experiences into economicstatusdifferences withinclasses,dividethosepopulation aggregates classesandstratawithcontradictory interests.In turn,aggregates andconflicting within characteristics sharingthesameclass location,or similarsocio-economic a class, are themselvesdividedby gender,race and ethnicityso that it is toassumethattheymightspontaneously coalesceintoclass or status problematic self-conscious, organizedgroups.Thisis why,in thelatesixtiesandearly1970s, I was criticaloffeminist theorieswhichignoredclass,racialand ethnicdivisions thatignoredhow mostmen amongwomenand men,and theoriesofpatriarchy undercapitalismarerelatively powerless(Gimenez,1975). Lateron,I published a criticalassessmentof the"feminization of poverty" thesisbecauseit was not sensitivetotheeffects ofclass,socio-economic status,racialand ethnicdivisions amongmen and women;it neglectedtheconnectionsbetweenthe povertyof womenandthepoverty ofmenand overlooked ofthisthesisas a thesignificance indicator oftheimmiseration ofthelowerstratawithintheU.S. working powerful class (Gimenez,1990). I am aware, however,that most sociologistsdo not take Marxism seriouslyand thattheoristsof genderand racial oppressionhave been,on the thisis a Moreimportantly, whole,hostileto Marxism'salleged reductionisms. whereclass is notpartofthecommonsenseunderstanding oftheworld country and remainsconspicuously absentfromthevocabularyof politiciansand most massmediapundits.Thisis why,despitetheU.S. history oflaborstruggles, today

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

26

theTrilogy Rethinking

theirsocial and economicgrievancesin people are morelikelyto understand gender,racialand ethnicterms,ratherthanin class terms,despitethefactthat lives. I am notarguingthat class is an ineradicabledimensionof everybody's northattheyare a formof racialand genderbasedgrievancesareless important in the U.S. it has "falseconsciousness;"in thepresenthistoricalconjuncture to articulateclass becomeincreasingly difficult, exceptionsnotwithstanding, fromgenderand racial/ethnic grievances.The ideological grievancesseparately have succeededtoo well,as and politicalstrugglesagainst"classreductionism" in whatamountsto genderand race/ethnic Kandal (1995) pointedout,resulting reductionisms.This situationdoes not indicatethe demise of class as a between of peoples'lives,but thatthe relationship determinant fundamental is more and consciousness class formations structural complex political changes, thanwhatsimplisticversionsof Marxismwould suggest. It is an important between thatit is necessaryto differentiate principleof historicalmaterialism materialorobjectiveprocessesofeconomicchangeandtheideological(e.g.,legal, political,philosophical,etc.) waysin whichpeoplebecomeconsciousof these and conflictsand fight them out (Marx, processes of transformations oftheRGC perspective [1859]1970:21). This is whyI welcomedtheemergence toraiseawarenessabouttherealityandthe itwouldcontribute because,I thought, racialnorgenderoppression ofclass and theextenttowhichneither importance can be understoodin isolationfromthe realitiesof class exploitation.My however,weremisplaced:thelocationofclass in theRGC trilogy, expectations, withinthisapproach;class is "the at theend,replicatesitsrelativesignificance theplaceofclass in the weaklinkin thechain"(Kandal,1995:143). Butaltering differences erasesthequalitative fortheRGC perspective wouldnotmatter, trilogy andoppression, an erasuregrounded betweenclassandothersourcesofinequality nature. in itsessentially atheoretical of it is the "intersections Whatis RGC's objectof study?Essentially, race,genderand class" (Collins,1997:74). Authorsvaryin themetaphors they use todescribethenatureoftheseintersections: interplay, e.g.,tripleoppression, interconnections cumulativeeffects, (Belkhir,1994); interactive, interrelation, triadicrelation,overlapping,interactive systems(Belkhir,1993:4); multiple jeopardy,meaning"not only several, simultaneousoppressionsbut also the relationsamongthem"(King, citedin Barnettet al., 1999:14, multiplicative ofa inter-connected simultaneous, systems emphasisin thetext);multiplicative, whole (Barnettet al., 1999:15). Collins,however,appearsto disagreewith for she statesthatthey of these relationships, mathematicalinterpretations to produceone so(meaningrace,genderand class) cannotbe "addedtogether called grandoppression"(Collins,citedin Barnett,1999:15); it followsthey the either.Collinsviewsarethemosthelpfulforidentifying cannotbe multiplied mainelementsofthisapproach: of structures 1. Race, genderand class are "distinctive yetinterlocking oppression"(Collins,1993:26) refersto the macrolevel connections 2. "The notionof interlocking suchas race,class and gender"(Collins,1997:74). ofoppression linkingsystems describesmicrolevelprocesses3. "The notionof intersectionality namely,how each individualand group occupies a social positionwithin interlockingstructuresof oppression described by the metaphor of

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

theTrilogy Rethinking

27

(Collins,1997:74). intersectionality" 4. "Everyone hasa race/gender/class (Collins,1993:28). specificidentity" 5. Everyindividualis, simultaneously, "beingoppressedandoppressor" (Collins,1993:28). aboutwhich 6. Oppressions shouldnotbe rankednorshouldwe struggle it is necessary"to is morefundamental: totheorizetheseconnections oppression of equivalencybetweenoppressions"(Collins, supporta workinghypothesis 1997:74). 7. These perspective requiresthatwe ask new questionssuch as, for and structured andsubordination ofdomination example,"Howarerelationships in theAmericanpoliticaleconomy?How do race,class and gender maintained of thatshapethisbasicrelationship function as parallelandinterlocking systems and subordination?" domination (Collins,1993:29). evidentin thepreceding As Collinsacknowledges (andthisis something todealwiththisissue)"theareaofrace,class and sampleofmetaphors attempting gender studiesstruggleswiththe complexquestionof how to thinkabout basedon intersections ofsystems ofoppression" (Collins,1997:73). One solution, is to theassumption thatgender,race and class are simultaneously experienced, individual not are considerthemas "situatedaccomplishments;" only they withothers"who, in interaction attributes but"something whichis accomplished in turn,rendertheseaccomplishments accountablewithininstitutional settings stance,people 1997:64).Fromthisethnomethodological (WestandFenstermaker, "do" difference (i.e., gender,race and class) in the processof simultaneously tothereproduction with their"doings,"contribute others and, through interacting social of those structures.As Collins rightlypointsout, this postmodern, leaves to "difference," constructionist analysisthatreducesoppressivestructures out "thepowerrelationsand materialinequalitiesthatconstitute oppression" forother solutionis unsatisfactory (Collins,1997:75). The ethnomethodological reasonsas well, whichfollowformitsbasicRGC assumptions; i.e.,thateveryone are has a race,gender,class identity, ofall socialinteractions andthattheeffects 1997: "raced,"and"classed."(WestandFenstermaker, simultaneously "gendered," 60). To postulatean isomorphicrelationbetweenstructurallocationwhether makesno difference locationis conceptualized singlyorintersectionally - andidentity oridentities similartothatimputed entailsa structural determinism thatall to "orthodoxMarxism." Whileit is true,as it could notbe otherwise, members ofa givensocietyare simultaneously locatedin a numberofstructures structural which,together, structures, shapetheirexperiencesand opportunity locationdoes not necessarilyentail awarenessof being thuslocated or the automaticdevelopment to thoselocations. It cannot ofidentities corresponding beassumed,then,thateveryone hasa race/gender/class as Collinsargues, identity, ofclass, is locatedat theintersection thoughitis truethateveryone, bydefinition, structures. That mostindividualsin this countryare gender,and racial/ethnic morelikelyto adoptand self-consciously rather displaygenderand racial/ethnic thanclass identities locationsbut is notan automatic oftheirstructural reflection thecombinedeffect ofmanyfactorssuchas, forexample,theheritageofslavery,

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

28

theTrilogy Rethinking

the presenceof colonized minorities, the compositionof past and current the balance of powerbetweenclasses and flows,McCarthysm, immigration characteristics oftheclass struggle ofthe1960s and,lastbutnotleast,theeffects social movementsand dominantideologiesdefiningthe limitsof political discourse. RGC thinkingconflatesobjectivelocationin the intersection of structures ofinequality andoppression withidentities; i.e.,individuals'subjective of who theyreallyare,and thisconflation understanding opensthewayto the solutionto"intersectionality," whichassumesthateveryone ethnomethodological so that all social deploysthoseidentitiesin the courseof social interaction, and "classed"(and thelistcouldgo on; "aged exchangesare "raced,""gendered," "ethnicized," "nationalitized," etc.). As mostinstitutional arecharacterized structures settings byhierarchical whichdistribute statuses,power, people in locationsassociatedwithdifferent individuals' ofwhotheyreally etc,itis likelythat,whatever privilege, conception are mightbe, theirbehavioris routinely in different termsbytheir interpreted in positions structure, peersandbythosewhoarelocatedhighin thehierarchical thatgive themthe powerto make decisions affecting otherpeople's lives. Identitiesare a contestedterrain,botha productof individuals'spontaneous, commonsenseself-understanding andpoliticalchoicesthathelpthemmakesense oftheirexistence,and a productoflabelingfromabove(e.g., byemployers and ofactsofpower. It is important, bythestate)or bytheirpeers;i.e., theeffects todifferentiate between"legitimating whicharetheproduct therefore, identities," of dominantinstitutions and groups,and "resistance whichemerge identities," fromthegrassroots is experienced, (Castells,1997). How"intersectionality" then, is itselfa thoroughly politicalprocessthatraisesquestionsaboutthepossibility thatwhatonce were"resistance whenlinkedto social movements, identities," whenharnessedbythestateto identities," mightin timebecome"legitimating narrowlegal and politicalboundariesthatruleout otherformsofpoliticalselfunderstanding. How are we to understand,at the macro level of analysis, the racialization,genderizationand theplacementof peoplein givenclass and or socio-economicstatuslocations? Are theseand otherstructures of inequality reproducedsimplyby "doingdifference"?While empiricalresearchon these mattersis important to documentthepersistence and pervasiveness of gender, thatpermeateordinary, class, and race prejudiceand stereotypes day to day it demonstrates at the same timethe limited, descriptive, noninteractions, natureof "intersectionality." In thecontextof Marxisttheory, the explanatory thatpeopleare "anensembleofsocialrelations," is argument meaningeveryone locatedat the intersection ofnumeroussocial structures, counteracts one-sided, ahistorical notionsofhumannature.As an RGC insight, itis also useful abstract, tocritiquedominant whichassociatepoverty, with race,andethnicity stereotypes womenand with"minority" status,as if "whites,"besides (i.e., "non-white") having"culture"(ethnicity beingthecultureof therelatively powerless)were mostlyrich and male. But this insight,capturedin the metaphorof and havingas a referent themultiplelocationsofindividuals "intersectionality" in thestructures thatmakeup thesocialformation as a whole,allowsus onlya) tomapthedistribution ofthepopulationin thesemanifoldlocationswheremost individualsoccupy"contradictory" locations;i.e., locationswheredominantand subordinate relationsintersect (Wright,1978); and b) to investigate empirically theextentto whichlocationsand identities coincideor not,and thepatterns of

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

theTrilogy Rethinking

29

thatensue. A graphicdepictionof severalof recognitionand mis-recognition theseintersections, ofwealth placingindividualsand couplesin theintersection ownership,income levels, occupations,gender,race, ethnicity,age and statusis thewell known"AmericanProfilePoster"accompanying employment Rose's periodic descriptionof U.S. social stratification (Rose, 1992). A howthorough, hasmeaningonlywithina specific nomatter however, description, in itself,as an accountofthemultiplicity context.Intersectionality of theoretical individualsexperiences,or as a studyof the patterned locationseffecting individualsclaim forthemselves variationsin theidentities regardlessof those locations,cannotexplaineitherthesourcesofinequalitiesor theirreproduction bases of power mustbe placed in the "institutional overtime;intersectionality shapingrace,class and gender"(Collins,1997:74). Whatare theseinstitutional toits them?Howdo we linkintersectionality basesofpower?Howdo we identify those"interlocking" structures ofpossibility, ofoppression? macrolevelconditions runsinto a theoretical dead end whichthe It is herethattheRGC perspective hidenor abundanceofmetaphors etc.)canneither intersecting, (e.g.,interlocking, ofdomination theexistenceofa "basicrelationship overcome.Collinspostulates withintheAmericanpoliticaleconomywhichis "shaped"by and subordination" the"race,classandgenderinterlocking (Collins,1993:29). RGC studies, system" ofexisting as Andersenand Collinspointout,requirethe"analysisand criticism ofpowerand privilege"(Andersenand Collins,1995:xiii). Whilethey systems of unequal or "basic" structure postulatetheexistenceof a morefundamental powerrelationsand privilegewhichunderliesrace,genderand class, no macro level theoreticalperspectiveis offeredto identifythis basic, fundamental becomes Itis atthispointthattheformalnatureoftheRGC perspective structures. clear:race,genderand class have become,forall practicalpurposes,takenfor in all remainsinvariant categoriesofanalysiswhosemeaningapparently granted theoriesofrace, andcontexts.Therearemanycompeting frameworks theoretical gender,class, Americansociety,politicaleconomy,power,etc. butno specific is invokedto definehowthetermsrace,genderand class are used,or to theory howtheyarerelatedtotherestofthesocialsystem.To someextent, race, identify and interlockings havebecomea mantra genderand class and theirintersections abouttheir fora tacitagreement tobe invokedin anyandall theoretical contexts, studies RGC have seems to and developed among meaning ubiquitousness to documenttheir advocates,so thatall thatremainsto be done is empirically thathappensis, by definition, foreverything intersections raced, everywhere, classed,and gendered.This pragmatic acceptanceofrace,genderand class, as and theresortto experienceas the oftheory, givens,resultsin thedownplaying of source of knowledge.The emphasison experiencein the construction reflect totheories as a corrective is intended that,presumably, onlythe knowledge of understanding experienceofthepowerful.RGC seemsto offera subjectivist oftheindividual oftheexperience andconsciousness as simplya reflection theory theorist,ratherthan as a body of propositionswhich is collectivelyand ofpossibility which specificconditions producedunderhistorically systematically as those conditions for as historical them Instead, prevail. long validity grant of orreflection conceivedas theproducts arepragmatically andtheory knowledge and relative so that as such, and, greateraccuracy unavoidably partial, experience completenesscan be approximatedonly throughgatheringthe experiential accountsofall groups.Such is theimportance givento theroleofexperiencein tothefirstsection thatintheeightpageintroduction ofknowledge theproduction six times(Andersen thewordexperienceis repeatedthirty ofan RGC anthology, and Collins,1995:1-9).

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

30

theTrilogy Rethinking

I agreewiththeimportance oflearningfromtheexperience ofall groups, especiallythosewhohavebeensilencedbyoppressionand exclusionand bythe effects ofideologiesthatmystify theiractualconditions ofexistence.To learnhow oftheirlivesis veryilluminating, for "ideas peopledescribetheirunderstanding are theconsciousexpression- real or illusory- of (our) actual relationsand activities" determines consciousness" (Marx,1994:111),because"socialexistence (Marx,1994: 211). Giventhatourexistenceis shapedbythecapitalistmodeof to be fullyunderstood in itsbroadersocial and political production, experience, has tobe situatedin thecontext ofthecapitalistforcesandrelations implications, thatproduceit. Experiencein itself,however,is suspectbecause,dialectically, it is a unityofopposites;itis, at thesametime,unique,personal,insightful and itselfthe social,partial,mystifying, revealingand,at thesametime,thoroughly productofhistoricalforcesaboutwhichindividualsmayknowlittleor nothing about(fora criticalassessment as a sourceofknowledgesee Sherry ofexperience of feminist in Chow,Wilkinson,and Gorelick,"Contradictions methodology," Baca Zinn,1996; applicableto theroleofexperiencein contemporary RGC and feminist researchis Jacoby's critiqueofthe1960spoliticsofsubjectivity: Jacoby, itis through 1973:37-49). Giventheemancipatory goalsoftheRGC perspective, theanalytical toolsofMarxisttheory thatitcanmoveforward, beyondtheimpasse reiteration revealedbytheconstant ofvariations on the"interlocking" metaphor. This wouldrequire,however,a) a rethinking and modification ofthepostulated betweenrace,class and gender,and b) a reconsideration of the relationships notionthat,becauseeveryone is locatedat theintersection all ofthesestructures, are "raced,""classed,"and "gendered." socialrelationsand interactions In the RGC perspective,race, genderand class are presentedas equivalentsystemsof oppressionwithextremely negativeconsequencesforthe oftheconnections betweenthese oppressed.Itis also assertedthatthetheorization "a of (Collins, 1997:74). systemsrequire workinghypothesis equivalency" Whetheror notit is possibleto viewclass as just anothersystemof oppression withinclassis defined.Ifdefinedwithinthe framework dependsonthetheoretical traditionalsociologyof stratification perspective,in termsof a gradation class referssimplyto strataor populationaggregatesrankedon the perspective, basis of standardSES indicators(income,occupation,and education)(foran andrelationalconcepts betweengradational excellentdiscussionofthedifference sensehas ofclass,see Ossowski,1963). Class in thisnon-relational, descriptive thangenderorracialoppression;itsimply no claimstobeingmorefundamental refers tothesetofindividualattributes thatplaceindividualswithinan aggregate definedbytheresearcher or strataarbitrarily (i.e., dependingon theirdata and researchpurposes,anywherefromthreeor fourto twelve"classes" can be identified). of Marxisttheory, Fromthestandpoint however,class is qualitatively different fromgenderand raceand cannotbe considered just anothersystemof oppression.As Eagletonpointsout,whereasracismandsexismareunremittingly a "badthing"eventhoughsocialistswouldliketoabolish bad,classis notentirely in usheringa new it. The bourgeoisie in itsrevolutionary stagewas instrumental one whichliberatedtheaveragepersonfromthe era in historicaldevelopment, theidealsofliberty, offeudalism andputforth equalityandfraternity. oppressions Today,however,ithas an unquestionably negativeroletoplayas itexpandsand deepenstheruleofcapitalovertheentireglobe. The workingclass,on theother hand, is pivotallylocated to wage the final struggleagainst capital and,

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

theTrilogy Rethinking

31

it is "an excellentthing"(Eagleton,1996:57). While racismand consequently, a unityof class relationsare, dialectically, sexismhave no redeemingfeature, a sitewherethepotential and,objectively, opposites;botha siteofexploitation agentsof social change are forged. To argue thatthe workingclass is the fundamental agentofchangedoesnotentailthenotionthatitis theonlyagentof classis ofcoursecomposedofwomenandmenwhobelong The working change. nationalorigins,cultures,and so forth,so that to different races,ethnicities, racial/ethnic and struggleshave thepotentialof fuelingclass struggles gender in this and incomedistribution ofwealthownership because,giventhepatterns thosewho raise thebannersof genderand racial and all capitalistcountries, are overwhelmingly workers, technicallymembersofthe propertyless struggles itis fora workingclass,peoplewhoneedtoworkforeconomicsurvivalwhether Butthis matter. and class sexism whom for or a racism, exploitation salary, wage visionof a mobilizedworkingclass wheregenderand racial strugglesare not tolinkRGC relatedrequiresa classconsciouseffort butarenevertheless subsumed studiesto theMarxistanalysisofhistoricalchange. In so faras the"class" in RGC remainsa neutralconcept,opentoanyandall theoretical meanings, justone its will not realize ali intersection others, revolutionary ty among oppression potential. I wantto argue againstthenotionthatclass shouldbe Nevertheless, not to considered equivalent genderandrace. I findthegroundsformyargument playin processesofepochalchange but onlyon thecrucialroleclass struggles ofRGC studiesandtheethnomethodological also intheveryassumptions insights ofthesimultaneity and Fenstermaker West forth (1994). The assumption by put withthe areraced,classed,gendered)together ofexperience (i.e., all interactions while one so that interactions in the inherent themselves, might person ambiguity those"doings"in terms another thinkhe orsheis "doinggender," mightinterpret when identifies thebasicissuethatCollinsaccurately of "doingclass,"highlight she argues thatethnomethodology ignorespowerrelations.Power relations underlieall processesof social interactionand this is why social factsare ofpoweroughtnottoobfuscate uponpeople. Butthepervasiveness constraining and consequentialthan thefactthatsome powerrelationsare moreimportant others.Forexample,thepowerthatphysicalattractiveness mightconfera woman doesnot oremployer femalesupervisor withherlessattractive inherinteractions matchtheeconomicpowerofthelatterovertheformer.In myview,theflattening betweenclass,raceandgenderin theRGC difference orerasureofthequalitative to deal with thatit is important for the the foundation is recognition perspective whichnowappeardisembodied, andsubordination" ofdomination "basicrelations toreject"classreductionism," outsideclass relations.In theeffort bypostulating theRGC perspective theequivalencebetweenclassandotherformsofoppression, ofclass butitis forcedto acknowledge bothnegatesthefundamental importance ofdomination. someother"basic"structures itsimportance bypostulating to the relationsbetween Class relations- whetherwe are referring capitalistand wage workers,or to therelationsbetweenworkers(salariedand and supervisors,those who are placed in waged) and their managers " for 1978) - areofparamount classlocations, importance, (Wright, "contradictory class mostpeople'seconomicsurvivalis determined bythem.Thosein dominant anda crucialway and subordinates positionsdo exertpowerovertheiremployees theirchoosingtheidentity inwhichthatpoweris usedis through theyimputetheir workers can,in turn, workers.Whatever mightclaimor "do,"employers identity

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

32

theTrilogy Rethinking

as "raced" or disregardtheirclaims and "read" their"doings"differently theirclasslocation orboth,rather thanas "classed,"thusdownplaying "gendered" andtheclassnatureoftheirgrievances.To argue,then,thatclass is fundamental toclass,buttoacknowledge thatthe is notto"reduce"genderorracialoppression basic and "nameless"powerat therootof whathappensin social underlying is class power. interactions groundedin "intersectionality" Conclusion reducesclass tojust anotherformof As long as theRGC perspective and eclectic,so that intersectionality oppression,and remains theoretically all theoretical to and in a for are, any way, "up meaning open grabs," interlockings of divisionand connectionwill thenatureof thosemetaphors interpretations, andevencontradictory remainambiguousandopentoconflicting interpretations. couldlink thattheRGC perspective Marxismis nottheonlymacroleveltheory ofdomination" butitis, I wouldargue, toin ordertoexplorethe"basicstructures themostsuitableforRGC's emancipatory politicalobjectives. Bibliography M.L & Collins,P.H. (1995). Race, Class, and Gender.An anthology. Andersen, Secondedition.Belmont,CA: Wadsworth PublishingCompany. Barnett,M. B., Brewer,R. & BahatiKuumba,M. (1999). New Directionsin Race,Gender& Class Studies:AfricanAmericanExperiences."Race, Gender& Class, 6(2):7-28. Race,Sex & Class in Our Belkhir,J. (1993). "Editor'sIntroduction: Integrating disciplines."Race, Sex & Class, 7(1):3-11. . (1994). "The 'Failure'and Revivalof Marxismon Race, Gender& Class Issues." Race, Sex & Class, 2(1):79-107. B. (1994). "Class,Race & Gender:The Triangleof Oppression. Berberoglu, Race, Sex & Class, 2(l):69-77. offeminist Gorelick,S. (1996). "Contradictions methodology.In E. Ngan-Ling Chow,D. Wilkinsonand M. Baca Zinn (eds.), Race, Class & Gender. Voices.ThousandOaks/London/Dehli: Commonbonds,Different Sage Publications. Collins, P. H. (1993). "Towarda New Vision: Race, Class and Gender as Race, Sex & Class, i(l):25-45. CategoriesofAnalysisandConnection." s DoingDifference. In M. Roth . (1997). On WestandFenstermaker Men and Gender,pp. 73-75. Ongoing Debates. Walsh (ed.), Women, Press. New Haven& London:Yale University London:Blackwell. Eagleton,T. (1996). TheIllusionsofPostmodernism. : A Journalof Gimenez,M.E. (1975). "Marxismand Feminism. Frontiers WomenStudies,7(l):61-80. . 1990. "The Feminizationof Poverty:Mythof Reality/ Social Justice , 17(3):43-69. Let'snotForgetClass." Race, Kandal,T. (1995). "Gender,Race & Ethnicity: Gender& Class, 2(2): 139-162. Jacobi,R. (1973). "ThePoliticsofSubjectivity.'NewLeftReview,79:37-49. Marx, K. (1994). "Theseson Feuerbach." In L. Simon (ed.), Karl Marx. New York:Hackett. SelectedWritings.

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

theTrilogy Rethinking

33

to theCritiqueofPoliticalEconomy. . ([1859] 1970). A Contribution Publishers. New York: International . (1994). "TheGermanIdeology."In Simon,op. cit. in theSocial Consciousness.New York: Ossowski,Š. (1963). Class Structure The FreePressofGlencoe. in the UnitedStates:The American Rose, S.J. (1992). Social Stratification ProfilePosterRevisedand Expanded. New York:New Press. S. (1997). "Doing Difference."In M. RothWalsh West,C. & Fenstermaker, ředí. nn cit nn.58-72. E.O. (1978). Class, Crisisand theState. London:Verso. Wright,

To subscribeor orderRace, Gender& Class: write,call, faxor e-mailto ofSocial Sciences, Jean Ait Belkhir,Department at New Orleans,6400 PressDrive, SouthernUniversity New Orleans,LA 70126 Ph: (504) 286 5232 //Fax (504) 280 6302 E-mail:[email protected] website:www.suno.edu/sunorgc @ Race, Gender& Class, 2001 Copyright

This content downloaded from 149.68.13.33 on Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:28:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

View more...

Comments

Copyright ©2017 KUPDF Inc.
SUPPORT KUPDF