The uses of whiteness: what sociologists working on Europe can draw from US research on whiteness

Garner, Steve (2006). The uses of whiteness: what sociologists working on Europe can draw from US research on whiteness. Sociology, 40(2) pp. 257–275.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038506062032

URL: http://soc.sagepub.com/content/40/2/257.abstract

Abstract

Whiteness studies are trans-disciplinary, but here the focus is principally on sociology and social history. Firstly, I identify, elucidate and synthesize the major ways in which whiteness in this literature has hitherto been problematized, to provide a sociological view of the multidisciplinary work so far. Five interpretations are identified; whiteness as absence, as content, as a set of norms, as resources and as a contingent hierarchy. Secondly, I make some proposals regarding the whiteness problematic’s degree of pertinence to European settings, with a brief discussion of the Irish case. Finally, I argue that whiteness is useful if conceptualized in a way that sets it within the parameters of studies of racism.

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