2021-2022 Catalog

POLS 258 Theoretical Accounts of Racism

Is “racism” the appropriate concept to describe our contemporary racial problems? Many scholars have rejected the idea that the persistence of a number of racial ills – like racial inequality, racial discrimination and racial segregation – in the contemporary moment is evidence that racism also persists as a problem in the twenty-first century. “Racism,” these scholars argue, more accurately describes the Jim Crow South and the people in that era who consciously held explicit beliefs about white superiority over all other races. Though acknowledging changes in racial climate and the terrain of acceptable speech with regards to race, other scholars think that unequal racial outcomes, institutional practices and ideological beliefs connect our contemporary racial problems to racial problems that occurred in the 1960s and earlier. This course is an introduction to the scholarship on racism and has as a central aim to get us to judge together whether “racism” is the appropriate concept to describe and provide a frame through which to understand our contemporary problems concerning race. If it is, which accounts of racism are the most compelling to shed light on our current racial circumstances? What about these accounts are particularly pertinent? What can’t the accounts of racism addressed in class explain? If racism is not the right concept to capture our current struggles with race (or all aspects of it), what concepts if any do a better job and why? To facilitate a critical interrogation of the concept racism, this course will cover sociological, historical, social psychological, philosophical and political accounts of racism and related concepts like racial injustice, racial prejudice, race relations, and racial inequality.



4 units

Cross Listed Courses

BLST 258

Core Requirements Met

  • United States Diversity