The End of Social Construction

What Comes Next?

in Social Analysis
John Hartigan Jr.University of Texas at Austin

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These are challenging times for people who think critically about race. The intellectual edifice upon which many scholarly interventions against racist thought and practice have developed over the last few decades is in the process of crumbling. The simple but profound assertion that race is socially constructed is being assailed in a variety of intellectual forums and may soon become untenable as a basis for effectively countering widespread racial perceptions and beliefs.1 Actually, the efficacy of the social constructionist stance, as with most ‘social’ explanations for politically charged and complex problems, has at best maintained only a tenuous hold in the public imagination.2 The challenge, then, is to find a better and more effective means of both objectifying and analyzing racial dynamics. This task begins by assessing why social construction is vulnerable in the first place, by delineating its weak points as an analytical framework, and by questioning the ways it either succeeds or fails in adequately representing and interpreting the nuance and complexity of racial relations.

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Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology


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