Sociological engagements: institutional racism and beyond

Murji, Karim (2007). Sociological engagements: institutional racism and beyond. Sociology, 41(5) pp. 843–855.



The concept of institutional racism emerged in 1967, the same year that this journal began. This first part of the article traces the origins and context of the term in the black power movement of the 1960s. Its subsequent adoption by sociology shows its engagement with issues of race and racism, though sociology itself became the object of critique for its understanding and explanation of racial inequalities. Links and differences between the USA and Britain are used to reflect on the different public roles of their national sociological associations. The second section draws on the example of the Macpherson inquiry and its difficulty in conceptualizing institutional racism. This shows that sociology's public role is contested and that trying to develop a public voice through the media is challenging. Overall, while focusing on some of the problems for developing public sociology, the article argues that confronting such problems is essential for the vitality of the discipline.

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