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New Racism pp 429-450 | Cite as

General Conclusion: Reviewing Research Approaches, Conceptualizing Mixed-Research Designs, and Writing into One Another’s Stories

  • Norma RommEmail author
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Abstract

In this concluding chapter I first summarize the way in which this book has been structured to re-examine various research options for organizing inquiries around new racism. I then offer some reflections on the justification for what Bonilla-Silva and Baiocchi call “mixed-research designs” (2008, p. 140). The argument that I forward is that mixed-research designs are feasible to the extent that it is recognized that any methodological options (including those employed in mixed-research designs) always need to be adapted for use in particular contexts. Instead of considering methods for collecting/generating data and methodologies (as designs for inquiry that make use of methods) as entities to be taken “off the shelf” (as Midgley, 1997, p. 261, puts it) and then used in combination with others, I suggest, following Midgley, that mixing methods/methodologies requires their creative use in situ. This means that the research approaches that are “mixed” become (re)moulded through the way in which they are used within the research project overall. Before proceeding to elucidate this argument, I offer a summary below of the course of the book thus far.

Keywords

Black People White People Black Racism Critical Race Theorize White Person 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

9.1 Introduction

In this concluding chapter I first summarize the way in which this book has been structured to re-examine various research options for organizing inquiries around new racism. I then offer some reflections on the justification for what Bonilla-Silva and Baiocchi call “mixed-research designs” (2008, p. 140). The argument that I forward is that mixed-research designs are feasible to the extent that it is recognized that any methodological options (including those employed in mixed-research designs) always need to be adapted for use in particular contexts. Instead of considering methods for collecting/generating data and methodologies (as designs for inquiry that make use of methods) as entities to be taken “off the shelf” (as Midgley, 1997, p. 261, puts it) and then used in combination with others, I suggest, following Midgley, that mixing methods/methodologies requires their creative use in situ. This means that the research approaches that are “mixed” become (re)moulded through the way in which they are used within the research project overall. Before proceeding to elucidate this argument, I offer a summary below of the course of the book thus far.

9.2 Summary Overview of the Book

In  Chapter 1, after indicating that the book is aimed at revisiting approaches to investigating new racism, I presented a narrative account of myself as a background for readers to better understand my concerns in writing the book. This led on to my outlining of my preference for adopting a more constructivist- than realist-oriented epistemological orientation in the debate concerning the understanding of research as an enterprise in society. I suggested that such an orientation provides more scope for researchers (professional or otherwise) to acknowledge a responsibility for the manner in which processes of “knowing” may be impactful on the unfolding of social outcomes – albeit that the social impact of research can itself never be understood outside of human discourse.

In  Chapter 2, I offered an exposition of a number of conceptions of, and ways of theorizing, new racism – showing that different arguments can be brought to bear in explaining the persistence of racism across the globe. In  Chapters 3 8, I discussed in detail a number of methodological approaches that have been used to explore issues relating to (new) forms of racism. I pointed to the accounts of authors explaining their use of them, while also showing that at times these approaches can be restrictive.

As I proceeded, I offered constructively oriented criticisms of realist-oriented arguments that insist that researchers be committed to producing accurate understandings of the social world as it operates irrespective of whether it is being researched or not (to use Hammersley’s terminology, 2003, p. 345). Hammersley states that it seems to him that “virtually all social research has this commitment” (2003, p. 345). However, I showed that from a constructivist alternative, the quest is not to try to seek knowledge of a social world as it operates without it being “reactive” to our research efforts. Such a quest can be seen as a wild goose chase with no goose, because we cannot ever establish whether we have “found” such a world – as we have no mechanisms for matching our statements with a posited social world operating outside of our discourses. Threaded throughout the book (and building up my arguments with reference to examples), I pointed to options for redefining both human knowing and human living. I indicated why many of those concerned with the exploration of new racism have forwarded ways of defining “validity” in social research in terms that are not based on commitments to a form of realist epistemology – where research gains its validity through researchers’ striving to attain accurate/unbiased representation of a posited external world. For example, I have shown how the criteria offered by Collins (1990) – such as the commitment to care, dialogue, and personal accountability – can be invoked in defining research validity. I elucidated the importance of these criteria within what I call a trusting constructivist epistemological argument, where the focus is on people being awarded trust in their research endeavors on the basis of their (display of) serious engagement and involvement with views and concerns as expressed and discussed by others.

In the light of the link between epistemology and ethics that I showed is important within the constructivist-oriented approach forwarded in the book, I examined various available methodologies that I chose to consider as research options. In view of this link, I offered suggestions for organizing the research process to allow for increased participation of research participants in framing/reframing issues in terms of different understandings and concerns that can be brought forward. And I showed how research reporting could be styled to express the status of research products as admittedly having been generated through the research, while also expressing an orientation on the part of authors to recognize and account for their own and others’ (value-laden) concerns as part of their presentation of theoretical accounts.

My discussion of experimentation in  Chapter 3 became an opening for me to provide a variety of theoretical perspectives that can be used to reframe the issues raised by the experimenters whose arguments I chose to discuss. I concentrated on exploring different angles on themes that recur through the book. When discussing Nier et al.’s (2001) experimentation with White participants in the USA, I considered in detail their views on recategorization as a way of possibly generating more inclusive social categorizations. However, I showed that their views on categories and on groups (including their views on race relations) might serve to reproduce an essentialization of the categories under discussion. I argued that this aspect of their research (and related research that they have conducted with minority groups too in the USA as elsewhere) has not been adequately (reflexively) reflected upon. I showed how one might review their theoretical conclusions, as well as the methodological approach leading to these, in the light of alternative ways of posing the starting questions that they have raised. I showed, for example, that so-called debriefing sessions in experiments could become an opportunity to open a space for reconsideration – including through cross-racial discussion across race(d) groupings – of starting conceptions. Such an engagement with alternatives could then be better expressed in (theoretical) write-up of “results.” Moreover, through encouragement of audience feedback (Nyamnjoh, 2007) additional participation of research participants (those initially involved) and of wider audiences can be provided for.

Meanwhile, in presenting my argument for shifting processes of experimental research, I expanded upon the experiment reported by Monteith et al. (2001) in which they set out to explore the reactions of their White American participants to measurements of “implicit racial bias” (obtained by using the Racial Implicit Association Test – IAT). Through the research they tried to establish whether enabling people with biased IAT scores to themselves detect their own implicitly held prejudices could become a route to intervening positively in the social world. I suggested a number of ways in which this interventive component of experimental research can be further capitalized upon. I also offered an indication of how an alternative relationship with participants in their experiment with White participants as well as in a subsequent experiment with African American participants could be set up, and indeed how cross-racial discussions could be encouraged through such research. I suggested furthermore that once the image (and self-image) of experimenters as geared to uncover the workings of a posited external “factual reality” becomes shifted, this provides space for us to explore the generative potential of experiments as an aid for increased reflection by both participants and wider audiences on what Douglas calls their “organizing frames for engaging with the world” (1998, Chapter 10, p. 17)

In  Chapter 4, I used the research of Rabinowitz et al. (2005) to make the point that survey research investigating attitudes (in this case of “high status group” people in the USA) around racialized issues can all too easily reproduce taken-for-granted social categorizations. I then showed how certain researchers conducting survey research (such as Haley and Sidanius, 2006) have acknowledged the way in which the framing of research questions can influence the kinds of responses that are given by respondents/participants (in this case, from what they call dominant as well as subordinate groups). But I suggested that this acknowledgment has normally not been carried to the point of reviewing “reactivity” in the context of considering how research itself can be seen as part of a process of forming attitudes/opinions in relation to race(d) issues. I pointed to ways in which survey research could more fully incorporate this understanding and could be shifted so as to enable those setting up such research to be more accountable for their involvements in social life. To this end, I examined specifically and further developed Geeraert and Dunn’s constructivist argument (2003) that they proffered when exploring racialized attitudes in Australia via their survey. I compared it with arguments developed earlier in the book, showing implications of this for discursively accountable survey research. I made suggestions for how survey researchers could set up their questions in such a way as to invite participants to reflect on the language that is being used. I showed too how they could invite both participants and wider audiences to reconsider what may have become taken-for-granted conceptualizations (including, say, conceptions of multiculturalism) through the way in which questions become posed to people both during the administration of the survey and during write-up thereof.

In  Chapter 5, I went on to discuss the engagement in intensive interviewing as a research approach for exploring new racism. I compared more traditional understandings of interviewing with alternatives. I showed, for instance, how Douglas, in her research with (other) Black woman managers in Britain, questions the traditional understanding of the relationship between “interviewer” and “interviewee” and calls for a revision of the role separation (1998,  Chapter 6, p. 4). Douglas indicates in addition that when engaging in any processes of inquiry, she does not assume the power to “know” but rather operates by keeping in consciousness “a tentativeness about stating ‘reality’” (1998,  Chapter 7, p. 7). Yet she points out that (paradoxically) her decision to operate in terms of a tentativeness in making claims about “reality” does not prohibit her from finding a way of operating in relation to others and their concerns. In  Chapter 5, I elaborated on the implications of Douglas’s epistemological and ethical orientation for intensive interviewing – comparing it with positions such as the one offered by Hammersley (1995, 2003). I showed how her considerations can be brought to bear in reconsidering the example of intensive interviewing provided by Essed (1991) in relation to Black women in the Netherlands and the USA (that I discussed in detail in the chapter). I also offered an outline of focus group interviewing as an intensive interviewing approach – and I illustrated with reference to an example of a focus group facilitated by me in South Africa (2007) how some responsibility can be taken for researcher involvement in such inquiries. I suggested that intensive interviewing can be seen (and practiced) in terms of the intent to create openings that otherwise may not be created in society for what Bonilla-Silva (2006) calls straight talk around more or less “taboo” subjects (such as, for instance, “race-talk”) by setting up forums for live mutual exchange as part of the inquiry process.

In  Chapter 6, in considering ethnography and autoethnography as research options, I presented as an example of ethnography a case of research in the USA (DeCuir & Dixson, 2004) undertaken in terms of critical race theorizing (CRT). According to Ladson-Billings, one of the important contributions of CRT is that it offers researchers “an opportunity to stand in a different relationship to the research (and researched)” than that provided for within what she calls “Euro-American cultural logic” – insofar as the latter involves an “aggressive seizure of intellectual space” (2003, p. 417). For her, the point of focusing on storytelling in (qualitative) research is “that it [this focus] can be used to demonstrate how the same phenomena can be told in different and multiple ways depending on the storytellers” (2003, p. 417). The issue of the power to define “reality” is thus a central issue of concern for her (and according to her, for CRT).

My discussion in  Chapter 6 was organized around considering a variety of interpretations of CRT as an entry into revisiting DeCuir and Dixson’s approach. For example, I pointed to Bell’s (1992, 1995) self-named realist position (“racial realism”) – which I argued differs from the hypothetico-deductive-oriented realism supported by Hammersley (1990) and bears more similarity to the realist stance adopted by Layder (1993). Layder classes Hammersley’s style of ethnography as oriented to middle range theorizing (1993, p. 31) – an approach to theorizing that he believes needs to be supplemented with more structurally oriented thinking (such as that promoted by Marx). However, Layder does not raise as an issue of concern the unequal power relationships that may be introduced by authorizing certain interpretations and analyses of institutions/structures and their “real” operation. I elaborated upon Alldred’s understanding of discourse ethnography (1998) and Walby’s account of “reflexive intervention” (2007) to point to options more in keeping with the interpretation of CRT that I see Ladson-Billings as supporting. I indicated how these options can be seen to link up with the critical theoretical arguments developed by, for instance, Habermas (1984, 1993, 1994) in his critical theorizing – especially as extended with reference to Collins’s (1990, 2000) suggestions – and how all these approaches can be used to revisit the study reported by DeCuir and Dixon (2004). Finally, with reference to debates around the value of autoethnography as a research approach, I offered a brief example of a case of my own autoethnographic research (in a setting in the UK) – considering it in terms of criteria of assessment that can be invoked within constructivist arguments.

In  Chapter 7, I discussed in detail further arguments for considering research as a “political” enterprise – in the sense that it cannot be regarded as neutral in its social impact. I concentrated on exploring the views of proponents of action research who argue that such research includes an orientation to develop more humane forms of social organization as part of the research remit. As Weil summarizes, the value of action inquiry lies in its enabling people to “work with learning and change” through setting up processes whereby people can consider, in practice, “the appropriateness of assumptions deriving from different paradigms of thought, and their influence on our choices of action and inquiry, our languages and our metaphors” (Weil, 1998, p. 43). I showed that this conception of action research tallies with the constructivist arguments that I have forwarded in the course of the book. I also highlighted how this interpretation of action research differs from realist-oriented interpretations that may be espoused.

I wished through this chapter to point to the details of the contribution that action research can make, through a pragmatic use of the logic of abduction, toward exploring while transforming forms of new racism. I chose what I regard to be two innovative action research approaches (with research examples from Britain and from Cyprus) to make this point. I suggested that these should be added to the repertoire of approaches to be used in the field. Mehta indicates that many supporters of action research as a mode of inquiry suggest that any methodology/method1 that can be harnessed to aid the facilitation of inquiry in action can be appropriately incorporated, depending on “how [it is] used and to what end” (2008, p. 246). This is in line with Selener’s comments that action research is “methodologically eclectic and innovative” (1997, p. 111). The two approaches that I discussed can be seen as possible options among others that can be (suitably) employed by those forwarding action inquiries.

In  Chapter 8, I undertook an exploration of the way in which abductive/retroductive logic can be used to aid theorizing around the structuring of specific modes of social organization, which become, in Marx’s terms, “fetishized” insofar as people cannot imagine their transformation. I suggested that the strength of retroductive inference in the analysis of new racism is that it enables us to move from experienced “consequents” to explanatory “antecedents” theorized at the level of social structures – without insisting on direct logical links being made between the two. I offered examples – concentrating on the one provided by Bonilla-Silva (2006) – of how racism can be theorized at the level of structure (thus theorizing beyond the “middle range”) in terms of the invocation of retroductive logic to create analyses of racism. I also suggested that in terms of this logic, there is no need to consider cognition as separable from emotion – and thus no need to uphold the dualisms of, say, mind/body, fact/opinion, thought/feeling, and so on, associated with the adoption of realist understandings of the knowing process. This is particularly so when we extend criteria for assessing the theorizing by taking into account Collins’s epistemological arguments (1990, 2000) and other arguments proposed by various other critical theorists.

Taking on board the structurally oriented theorizing of Bonilla-Silva, who propounds that we need to move beyond seeing racism as primarily rooted in “prejudice,” I suggested that we can review the exemplars of social psychological experiments and surveys in  Chapters 3 and  4. That is, we can undercut the theoretical starting position that seems to link racism primarily to negative feelings and attitudes. We can make the point that this theoretical starting point leads to attendant solutions being proposed by the researchers to try to address such feelings and attitudes, through, for instance, creating “recategorizations” of “the other” (as proposed by, say, Nier et al., 2001) or through trying to foster “egalitarian attitudes” (Rabinowitz et al., 2005). These approaches to racism (with the focus on studies of “prejudice”) can be argued to be unnecessarily restrictive. As Omi and Winant note, though, it may not be necessary to uphold an either/or position in this regard, where racism is seen as either rooted in people’s prejudicial responses or in social structures (1994, p. 138). Douglas concurs with this when she points to the “unending debates about behavior or attitude change; change of individuals or change of culture” that often governs “analysis of the problem” of racism. She too prefers to distance herself from this “either-or, dichotomized way of thinking” (1998,  Chapter 4, p. 15). More important for her is to “gain insight into the variety of assumptions that underpin different perspectives on the ‘problem’ and also the solutions offered” (1998,  Chapter 4, p. 16).

My discussion in  Chapter 8 was directed toward considering how one can account for modes of inference that provide for structurally oriented inquiry (of the kind undertaken by, say, Collins, 2005, Bonilla-Silva, 2006, Stewart, 2008, etc.), and how we might consider the status of the proffered theorizing. As far as research procedures to be used in supporting systemic theorizing of this kind are concerned, Bonilla-Silva (2006) indicates that he used interviewing along with reference to other research material (including analyses of historical records) to build up his theorizing around color-blind racism. He and Baiocchi comment that although survey research can be useful to “gather general information on actors’ views,” they believe that it is “time to rely more on data gathered from in-depth interviews and mixed-research designs” (2008, p. 140). (They suggest in this regard that they are following Du Bois’s (1899) model – 2008, p. 150, Endnote 11.) They thus show a preference, alongside some usages of quantitatively oriented research, for in-depth interviewing and mixed-research designs. This preference of theirs should also be read in the light of the problem that Collins (2000) identifies, namely, that methodologies modeled on the natural sciences (such as, say, experiments and surveys) propose an emotional detachment of researchers when dealing with their “object of study” – which becomes, indeed, treated as an object (2000, p. 255). From Collins’s ethical perspective, she finds untenable this relationship of researchers with what is being “researched.”

I have suggested in  Chapters 3 and  4 that it is possible to (re)design quantitatively oriented methodological options so that they can incorporate some of the concerns as have been expressed by Collins, by using them in a way that may differ from their more “normal” use. This is by, for instance, admitting the possible ways in which the research framing can generate rather than simply “discover” results, and by establishing more space for researchers to interact with respondents/participants outside the frames initially provided. In addition, I have suggested in  Chapters 5,  6 and  7 that the use of qualitatively oriented approaches too needs to go hand in hand with researchers’ careful consideration of the manner of justifying the approach by accounting for what Collins calls the “criteria for methodological adequacy” that are being drawn upon (2000, p. 256). My argument overall that I have put forward is that no matter what methodological approaches are being utilized (whether on their own or in mixed designs), researchers should not avoid considering the way in which, and purposes for which, the approaches are being employed in terms of the research being implicated in the unfolding of the social fabric. In the next section I explore further arguments for ways of treating the different methodological options that may be incorporated in mixed-research designs.

9.3 Mixed-Research Designs

As McKay and Romm note, debates around possibilities for developing coherent mixed-research designs center around the question of what it might mean to mix different approaches, given that they each seem to invoke different paradigmatic assumptions about the nature of the “reality” being investigated, the meaning of “knowing,” and the relationship between “researchers” and “those being researched” (2008b, pp. 391–392). When inquirers develop mixed-research designs, can they work with these differing underlying assumptions, or do they need to override some of the assumptions in the process of drawing on a variety of research procedures? For example, if, say, experimental research has been developed as an approach geared to locating causal relationships between variables that are seen to inhere in the social world, can this be properly “combined” with alternative approaches that entail a questioning of this view of social reality, of how it can be inquired into, and of how (professional) researchers should properly relate to participants?

In order to create a mixed-research design, it would seem that it is necessary to alter some of the “original” philosophical understandings of the (separate) methodologies, given the differing paradigmatic assumptions that each otherwise carries. Vogt comments that while “different kinds of coding, measurement and analysis are frequently employed in the same study,” the issue remains as to whether one can “mix [underlying] philosophical paradigms” (2008, p. 10).2 He answers this question tentatively by pointing out that “perhaps pragmatism allows this. But does it allow mixing purposes, problems or constructs?” (2008, p. 10). Some authors have argued that when combining methodologies, each different one should be used largely “as is” in order to try to retain the rationale of the approach as developed by original creators thereof (cf. Flood & Jackson, 1991). The idea here would be to try to show respect for the range of alternative standards that can be invoked to judge the quality of research – and to afford credibility to each one. That is, a diversity of criteria for developing sound research would then be activated by those organizing the “mixing” of the separate approaches.

Midgley (2000, pp. 225–228) looks at the question of mixed-research designs from another angle, similar to the one I wish to forward in this book. He argues that instead of trying to take “off the shelf” the separate approaches, it is often a more suitable (and dynamic) approach to adapt them in a creative way, in terms of an overall research design. He argues that inquirers have a pivotal role in deciding how to use/adapt various “available” (or if necessary newly developed) options; and they are in this sense in a “unique position of responsibility” (2000, p. 229). Boyd et al. further explain:

It is not usually a matter of “stitching” methods together in an additive fashion (although this can be done): a whole system (interrelated set) of purposes can be pursued through the synergy of different methods. (Boyd et al., 2007, p. 1309)

Here Boyd et al. – following Midgley (2000, p. 226) – emphasize that if inquirers consider carefully the purposes for which the inquiries are being undertaken, they are able to create a “synergy” between the different methods (or methodologies) that become drawn upon.
McKay and Romm interpret the approach that we used in exploring HIV/AIDS in the informal economy in Zambia (following a similar design developed by McKay (2003), in a previous four-country study), as offering an illustration of Midgley’s (2000) and Boyd et al.’s (2007) account of the effort to creatively develop a synergy between methods/methodologies. We add to Boyd et al.’s account that when (re)working various research approaches that become utilized, these can become adapted through infusing each one with a consciously considered intervention component.3 In stating our stance in relation to methodological pluralism we suggest that:

This injection [of an intervention component] into the methods/methodologies used (as well as into their interconnection) implies infusing a reflected-upon intention into the employment of the methods/methodologies – an intention that is considered anew with each use of the method/methodology (and which can be accounted for in the social context in which the method/methodology is to be employed). (2008b, p. 392)

Mehta makes a similar point when she suggests that in considering the use of methods, it is important to bear in mind “the political opportunities that exist in a given context and the spaces that are available or that can be opened up to influence.” She states that:

While surveys can be highly extractive [using people’s responses to extract information], they can generate data that can speak to powerful people. They can also complement qualitative and participatory research. Similarly, qualitative research can be extractive and ridden with power politics. Thus a lot hinges on the intention of the researcher, her approach to research and her research participants, rather than the methods per se. (2008, p. 246)

Mehta’s observation that “much depends on the researcher” again puts the focus on the need for responsibility to be taken for the way in which methodologies and methods are used and the way in which they may be “mixed” (if they are mixed). In the light of the focus on responsibility (or what can also be called discursive accountability), McKay and Romm aver that

the debate around methodological pluralism can be revisited by highlighting (as Midgley, 2000, suggests) the responsibility of inquirers, and in addition by considering how inquirers can try to cater – in each context of use of a method/methodology/overall research design – for their involvement in the unfolding of social outcomes. (2008b, p. 393)

McKay and Romm propose that the use of particular methods/methodologies whether or not “mixed” in an overall design requires us to consider (with others, through a discursive process) their interventive possibilities. As I have suggested throughout this book, instead of regarding methods/methodologies as a means (primarily) to “produce knowledge” (as Hammersley, 1995, 2003, puts it), researchers need to concern themselves with their impactful involvements in the social world via their research efforts. Research designs created for exploring racism should thus be consciously harnessed toward the political project of working toward more humane, genuinely democratic, social alternatives. I have concentrated in this book on offering suggestions for how the different research approaches that I explored in  Chapters 3 8 can – if suitably shifted/expanded – be harnessed toward this end. Likewise, I suggest that our ways of combining approaches in mixed research designs too need to be developed in terms of similar considerations (in discursive engagement with others) of the complicity of research in the organization of our social being. That is, we need to acknowledge responsibility for our involvement in the social world through our use of the research processes and through our way of presenting any products/results generated thereby.

I would now like to make the further point that even when inquirers choose not to “mix” approaches in any particular project, they still can operate in terms of a consciousness that recognizes that there is value in what other inquirers may be doing – toward building up a variegated “story” around new racism and ways of addressing it. Collins suggests in this regard that there is much to be gained by allowing for a story to become built up “from a multitude of different perspectives” – accepting that different authors of stories (including ones developed by those defining themselves as professional researchers and by others) each can contribute “missing parts to the other writer’s story” (2000, p. 38). It is important here also, as Collins notes, not to concentrate only on accounts written up in books and journals, but to include as credible those accounts that may be expressed in any communications shared with others – including accounts that may be reported in sources such as masters and doctoral theses, lectures, and so on. This is especially because, as she remarks (citing Kuhn, 1962; Mulkay, 1979), “in general, scholars, publishers, and other experts represent specific interests and credentializing processes” (2000, p. 253).4

To sum up, I have argued in relation to the use of methodological approaches to explore new racism that a responsible approach implies that we:
  • Actively rework/shift “traditional” uses of methodological approaches, and decide in different research contexts how and whether to combine different ones – in such a way as to make provision for considering with others the possible impacts in society of both processes of inquiry and their generated products. This at the same time requires acknowledging that, as Collins points out, issues of control in social life can be seen as manifesting also in ways in which criteria for methodological adequacy or inadequacy become defined (2000, p. 39) – with certain approaches often dubbed inadequate in terms of invoked “scientific” paradigms of research. (It is for this reason that I have concentrated on spelling out alternative criteria as the book proceeded.)

  • Operate styles of reasoning/logic that enable “understanding” (or insight generation) to be inextricably linked with “caring”– thus reworking the reason/feeling binary and instantiating forms of empathetic knowing and living.

  • Accept that there will be diverse ways of approaching our inquiries around new racism as well as diverse theoretical perspectives on “the problem” that become proffered – and that different writers can contribute what Collins calls “missing parts to the other writer’s story” (2000, p. 38).

Considering this last bullet point, for me this does not imply trying to generate a unity of perspective, but rather an enrichment hereof, with a view to enriching the consideration of possible options for action too. My discussions of theoretical fluency that I introduced in the various chapters imply engaging with others’ stories and considering how these evoke alternative possibilities for addressing “the problem.” Gaertner et al. make the point that research that they cite “across time, populations, and paradigms … illustrate[s] how aversive racism – racism among people who are good and well-intentioned – can produce disparate outcomes between Blacks and Whites” (2005, p. 384). I have argued in this book (mainly in  Chapter 3, Section 3.4.2) that Gaertner et al. still can be seen to be relying on particular research approaches and more specifically on a “scientific” paradigm of research in order to generate their story (which they would probably not call a story) around aversive racism. I have tried to show that there are alternative ways of proceeding that question the starting framework (along with their implied view of science) and that the different stories generated can together create a more evocative account, evoking different action options. I have also suggested that in reading each other’s stories and helping to write “missing parts,” all participants can at the same time begin to unfold “their” stories differently, producing new understandings on their part that they otherwise may not have appreciated (if they are unduly restricted methodologically and theoretically).

This means too that we accept that people (and their stories) can develop along new lines, and that they (like methods/methodologies/theories) can be treated as being in-the-making. Kalungu-Banda, in offering lessons that he believes he has learned from Nelson Mandela’s life, indicates that when we regard “others,” and believe that we can trace a pattern in their behavior, this “does not entitle us to think we know the lot” about them. He continues:

The pattern we may have noticed is not hard information: it can be negated at any time by the choices of that person we think we know inside out. That is what makes any human being a mystery. (2006, p. 22)

Taking up this lesson from Kalungu-Banda, my suggestion therefore is to treat theorists/writers and the theories/stories they tell as unfolding, emergent phenomena – that for this reason cannot be understood/appreciated via stable categories. As we engage with “their” stories, we can appreciate that these stories at the same time are [can be] in the process of shifting.

9.4 Some Concluding Notes

9.4.1 A Note on the Terminology of “Mixing” in “Mixed-Research Designs”

The terminology of mixing used by some authors referring to mixed-research designs could create the impression that the research approaches that become mixed each have their “own” identities, which they then bring into the “combination.” White and Taket refer to this model of mixing as implying that there exists a “set of unitary distinct categories” each with a stable identity. They argue that this in turn invokes an underlying “homogenizing and sterilizing” perspective on diversity (1997, p. 391). As I noted in  Chapter 4, Section 4.7.1, Ali expresses similar concerns with the category of mixed races – which she indicates brings with it the assumption that singular “races” exist in the first place to be “mixed.” She points to “the ongoing singularity in hegemonic discourses of ‘race’, and the binary structure that underpins most models of difference and discrimination” (2003, p. 6).

In keeping with my attempt to deconstruct the idea of unitary, homogeneous entities “existing” in social reality – including entities such as “methods” and “methodologies” – I suggest that it is preferable to recognize that what becomes mixed in mixed-research designs should be treated as already differentiated and also as potentially evolving. This makes more provision for being able to appreciate, with Kalungu-Banda, that what we seem to be presented with (e.g., a person, method, or methodology) “is not hard information: it can be negated at any time by the choices of that person we think we know inside out” (2006, p. 22). Applied to the issue of utilization of methodologies, we can be surprised by the innovative ways in which people can use methodologies in a fashion that we had not foreseen, and which show us that “information” about the methodologies’ potential usage need not be treated as “known.”

9.4.2 A Note on Plurality of Cultural Expressions and of Methodological Approaches: Pluralism as an Opportunity for Learning

Vogt refers to the “intensity of debates” about methodological options and notes that in order to understand these debates it may be necessary to “apply concepts from social psychology and cultural anthropology” (2008, p. 18). He suggests that methodological groups often develop with loyalties to “favored research approaches” and with “ethnocentric ideas” concerning what are seen as other research group cultures. He indicates that in this context “allegiance can replace choice, which in turn chokes off innovation” (2008, p. 18). He admits that his ideas about how researchers often proceed in terms of some favored approach are not new, and that already Kuhn (1962) indicated that often researchers stick to what they see as the “tried and true” approach (2008, p. 10). Taking on board the arguments around making provision for diversity of cultural expressions that I developed in  Chapter 4 (Section 4.3.1), these arguments can be applied to consider the relationship between methodological options treated as “cultural alternatives.” My suggestion is that researchers can, and should, develop the facility to learn from what “the other” can offer, and use this as a basis for extending their initial understandings of particular approaches to which they might have been committed.

When discussing different models of pluralism in terms of which people can operate, Kundnani points out that one model is to try to preserve the initial identity of the various cultures – in a kind of static multiculturalism. But another approach makes provision for more dynamic forms of multiculturalism, where participants are open to engage in discussion around social values as part of a process of mutual learning (2007, pp. 6–7). Invoking (and encouraging) this latter interpretation of pluralism, I argue that it is important for researchers/inquirers to consider the various methodological options as starting points to renew their considerations, with others, around the value of social research/inquiry. And I suggest – in terms of all of the illustrations that I have forwarded in this book – that what we cannot leave out of the discussion are concerns around the possible social impact of all social inquiry.

9.4.3 A Note on the Discursive Intent of My Use of Categories

In the course of the book, I have made use of categorical distinctions – between, say, old-fashioned and new(er) forms of racism, between realist-oriented and more constructivist-oriented epistemologies, between different kinds of methodological approaches, between multiculturalism and more radical multiculturalism, and so on. However, my intention, via the use of the categories, was to create openings for continued discussion around issues that I have raised for attention in the book – by inviting people to (re)consider my way of seeing differences between the alternatives as defined by the categories.

For example, in the case of describing different methodologies, using categories such as experimentation, surveys, intensive interviewing, and so on, I am not assuming that the categories refer to entities with specific “identities.” Rather I am assuming that as I talk, and invoke categories, so this raises for discussion issues around how social research can be (responsibly) engaged in. I have tried to show, for instance, that the doing of “experimentation” need not be confined to a particular definition thereof, and that increased provision can be made by those conducting experiments (and naming their research as such) for, for instance, qualitative input on the part of participants and wider audiences. In this way, the boundaries between “experiments” and “other” forms of research can be treated as porous and indeed by treating the boundaries as porous we can encourage a relationship between research approaches where researchers are able to take on board arguments/suggestions developed by those forwarding “other” research options (and attendant purposes).

As far as the categories of “realist-oriented” and “more constructivist-oriented” to describe epistemological positions is concerned, these categories as used in the book were a way of my highlighting that as I see it, there is no need to conceptualize research processes in terms of their contribution to producing knowledge of realities posited to exist outside of the knowing process (as in what can be called realist-oriented understandings of science). The pervasive belief – that authors such as Collins (2000), Ladson-Billings (2003), and Reason (2006a) consider as still dominant, rendering alternative epistemologies marginalized – is that the scientific community can manage to “get closer to the truth” through the mechanisms of science. But this self-understanding of science, I have argued, needs to be understood in relation to constructivist alternatives.

The longstanding dispute about whether or not science should be seen as advancing our knowledge of realities existing independently of discourse cannot be resolved with reference to “the evidence” about what science “really” can achieve. But my argument is that just because we can never know whether so-called scientific investigation is leading to advancements of knowledge defined as reflection of external realities, researchers do need to be particularly wary of presenting it as a process of developing such knowledge. Hence, working with a conception of knowing as a process of developing constructions might be considered preferable not because it can be proved that theorizing constitutes, rather than reflects, “realities,” but because – as I have argued via my illustrations in the book – it can be seen to provide more scope for inquirers to relate to others in a discursively accountable way.

My proposal in this regard goes hand in hand with my suggestion that one can award trust in people’s capacities to make judgments about ways of seeing and acting, without expecting them to have to justify themselves with reference to the soundness of their vision in relation to “the realities” (Romm, 2001, p. 284). Requirements on inquirers to “keep trust” could be requirements on them to be discursively oriented to defending choices of vision and action in serious engagement with alternatives. I have presented this value (which is admittedly a value) as an option, or way of life, to be given consideration – in contexts of “professional” social inquiry as well as in everyday discourse. And I present it as an option that, at this point, can be seen to differ from realist-oriented approaches to ways of knowing and living.

Of course it is possible that those whose arguments I have called realist in orientation and also those who self-categorize their position as realist oriented might claim that I have misrepresented their statements concerning what is involved in the scientific enterprise and have in effect caricatured their position. Speaking (admittedly) from a constructivist perspective, I would contend that there is no manner in which we can finally ground a complaint that another person has “really” been caricaturing as opposed to categorizing an argument. The charge of caricature implies that there is an experience that the other has not respected, or tried to come to grips with, the rationale of a position taken. We can never know whether this experience is justified or not – but what we can do is try to set up an alternative style of relating, so that our relationship can become experienced as more constructive (for furthering the discussion). (See also Romm, 1998c.)

This therefore brings me back to the point that at the end of the day, our ways of categorizing and dealing with possible complaints of caricaturing, are inextricably connected to the quality of human relationship that we wish to establish between those engaged in discussion. In processes of debate, people may decide that their reasons for wanting to identify themselves with some aspect of a category (as advanced by themselves at some point in time or by others) can be modified/extended. They may reconsider the way in which they wish (or whether they wish) to be thus identified. By arguing around the relevance of some suggested category to (aspects of) their work/behavior, they can at the same time refine/develop their approach. This makes provision for Kalungu-Banda’s point (2006, p. 22) that we can treat the patterns that we discern in people’s positions/ways of behaving as capable of unfolding in different directions as we interact with them. And as people and their “positions” unfold (to us) so the categories we may be employing can shift their meaning, as they become qualified/modified. It is in this way that I would argue that categories can meaningfully become defined through the course of social interaction. And whether the categories continue to have relevance as categories depends on whether the different parties still afford them relevance (and whether they can convincingly use them in a way that does not generate distrust).

In short, treating categories as openings for human discourse is a way of treating the categories as well as an attendant way of treating our social relationships. It is for this reason that I have concentrated as an important theme in this book on the status that we assign to any categorizations.

9.5 Some Unexplored Areas for Further Inquiry

I conclude this book by pointing to various unexplored areas herein to which I wish to alert readers and which other inquirers may choose to try to “fill” in some way as part of the ongoing debate around (experiences of) forms of new racism. Three areas around which I have not tried to offer advice for exploring (in terms of my methodological discussions in  Chapters 3 8) are the following:
  1. 1.

    Options for exploring the complicity by Africans in Africa perpetuating conceptions of White superiority;

     
  2. 2.

    Options for exploring hierarchies not based on only Whiteness as supreme;

     
  3. 3.

    Options for exploring the meaning of racism in regard to possible conceptualizing of Black racism.

     

9.5.1 Complicity by Africans in Africa Perpetuating Conceptions of White Superiority

When conducting my research toward the writing of this book, I did not find examples of research specifically exploring the way in which within Africa certain Africans may themselves be perpetuating what are called new forms of racism through their (more or less) covert perpetuation of norms of White superiority. My extensive investigation of research around new racism showed up articles writing about new racism in various geographical arenas, but not about Africans in Africa perpetuating what is called normative Whiteness. References that I found to this were linked more to South Africa, where for example the Human Rights Commission report in South Africa referred to the “veritable history of dominance by the European culture and world view in South Africa to the extent that such a uni-polar world view has come to be taken for granted” (2000, p. 57). (See  Chapter 2, Section 2.3.4.) I also showed in  Chapter 5 in relation to my research example set in South Africa how one could consider the use of the term “coconut” as pointing to the conceptions of users of the term that those “coconuts” presumably trying to act as “White” were trying to claim some kind of superiority. However, in wider Africa I did not find articles referring to arguments around this concern and therefore did not include these in this book.

Upon getting feedback from Carlis Douglas on my  Chapter 2, she pointed out this unexplored area to me. At first I did not understand what she meant when she suggested that I have not attended to new racism in Africa. But she offered an illustration of this to me springing from experiences that she and her (Nigerian) husband had had when they visited Nigeria (from the UK where they live) trying to set up work opportunities.

I offer below the gist of our Skype conversation in this regard (August 2008) – with Carlis Douglas being abbreviated as CD and Norma Romm as NR:
CD:

My husband had some interviews with different companies in Nigeria with respect to work. On a number of occasions we were told that they were excited about what he is doing, but if he wanted to be taken seriously he needed a White man to offer the presentation [at the time when he made his formal presentation].

NR:

Were the people who told him he needs a White person presenting Black?

CD:

Yes, and they were supportive and were friends and were wanting to see success – they were being helpful [in telling him to bring along a White person].

NR:

For whom were the presentations?

CD:

The presentations were to Black people. [He was told that] he would get more credibility if done by a White man. They said, “look, he does not have to know very much – as long as he is White. If you walk into the room with him immediately your credibility is established”.

CD:

This conversation came from so many different people.

NR:

Were these different people on different occasions?

CD:

Yes, and on one occasion I had a conversation about the fact that this had happened – the response was “Well you know you just have to be real, this is how things are”.

NR:

You lose the work if you resist this.

CD:

It is not named as racism.

NR:

How do they see it?

CD:

Pragmatism – it is pragmatic to have a White person with you to increase credibility.

CD:

My sense was that the issue of racism – having a discussion of racism in Africa – is not something they feel is an issue. They don’t see it as an issue. So if you say to them it is a perpetuation of racism, they will not agree.

NR:

Even if you try to sensitize them to this?

CD:

They see it as normal that if you want to increase your credibility, you need a White person.

CD:

The internalization of racism is less visible [than reactions to colonization]. We don’t know enough about this.

NR:

Yes, we don’t know about racism in Africa that is unspoken about.

CD:

When responding to the old fashioned kind – colonialism – they resist that, but they do not seem to recognize new racism as a conception of hierarchy; this is less explicit. They seem not to be recognizing other ways in which the hierarchies become perpetuated.

CD:

I wonder if discussions taking place around racism have happened in one part of the world and not in others – therefore there is a dearth of information around this. We have had more of a discussion historically in the USA and parts of Europe (my italics).

NR:

So there is probably more awareness of this there. And in other places, we get only glimpses, for example, via this anecdote.

CD:

These conversations are anecdotal pieces of experience.

The conversation then led to our discussing what it might mean to engender further reflection and how reflections driven by “action” purposes might differ from reflections driven by “theory” (thus linking up with issues around action research that I discussed in  Chapter 7).

The point I wish to make here is that Douglas brings to attention that in this book I have not examined the implicit perpetuations of hierarchical thinking (with Whiteness affording credibility) that, she believes, need to be opened up to exploration in Africa. My sense, with Douglas, is that there is a dearth of information on this and that discussions on new racism have tended to take place in other parts of the world.5

I would suggest that this is a gap in this book – and ways of organizing research around unrecognized perpetuation of more or less invisible hierarchies in Africa need to be explored (through further research). I would suggest that this would be a way of people writing into my story parts that I have not been able to write.

9.5.2 Not Only Black and White

As I mentioned in  Chapter 1, when offering me feedback on my draft  Chapter 1 (January 2009) Sisinyane Makoena suggested to me that I should point out in this book that new racism may not just be a matter of social relations around Whiteness and Blackness.

She suggested (in personal communication) that one of the strengths of this book as she sees it is that I am proposing that “everybody should come together and come with their views and unpack them and make them more open and more visible.” But she pointed out that I seemed to be concentrating only on hierarchical thinking in relation to Whites and Blacks and had made no mention of hierarchies among Black people. She gave the example of her marriage to a Zulu man that was opposed by his family – who still do not regard her as on the same level as a Zulu woman. (See  Chapter 1, Section 1.7.) She indicated that it is difficult to raise this subject with the relatives, but her husband urges them to try to accept that in the new South Africa there is no place for this kind of thinking. Her husband feels that after apartheid there should be more social space for reviewing the rigidities of ethnically based judgments; but she feels that thus far in her case the social space for opening discussion is limited.

Furthermore, in reading parts of my  Chapter 2, Veronica McKay too pointed out to me (by e-mail, September 2008) that “we also have ethnic discrimination among ethnic groups in South Africa – also since these groups and differences were focused on during apartheid.”6 She further noted a link between this and my brief mention in  Chapter 2 of some understandings in regard to Black “foreigners” in South Africa.

I have not ventured in this book to discuss in any detail these different kinds of hierarchical thinking (in South Africa or elsewhere). But I would suggest that further exploration of (defined) Black people’s anecdotes/examples of experienced discrimination by other Blacks in relation to their ethnic/national backgrounds is an area that could become linked to the discussion of manifestations of new racism and its various social manifestations across the globe.7

9.5.3 Black People’s Racial Labeling – Connections with Racism

Another area to which I have not given attention in this book relates to the issue of what is sometimes called Black racism vis-à-vis Whites and others.8 In considering this issue, Bonilla-Silva contends that it is important to define racism as a “sociopolitical concept that refers … to racial ideology that glues a particular social order” – rather than to define it in terms of individual attitudes that may be held by people. He considers it crucial that people understand that “individual-level explanations are, for the most part, deficient and incomplete at explaining big national and international issues” (such as racism) (2006, p. 220). As he puts it, we need to move to a different level to understand the “centrality of larger social forces” (2006, p. 220). This, he suggests, also helps to recast the issue that has been posed by some authors concerning the (so-called) racism of Black people who use derogatory racial labels. Considering in particular the context of the USA, he argues that once we treat (White) racism as enmeshed in a system of power, if we wish to consider Black racism on the same terms we need to ask: Are blacks likely to develop a racialized social system in the United States with blacks as the dominant race?” (2006, p. 173). He avers that the most likely scenario for the future of the USA is that:

Race relations will become Latin American-like, that is, … a new triracial order will emerge with a pigmentocratic component to it [where “epidermic capital” – such as light skin color, eye color, etc., will continue to function as a form of capital9]. As in Latin American-like society, any form of race-based contestation will become increasingly more difficult, which, as in Latin America, will allow white supremacy to reign supreme, hidden from public debate. (2006, p. 173)

Because Bonilla-Silva offers a structural definition of racism as linked to disadvantages in life chances for people in groups defined as not-White, he does not believe that it is helpful to speak of Black racism in the same way as one can speak of White racial ideology that glues the social order. To the extent that Black people may use racial language to label Whites and others in derogatory ways, this is not the same as developing an ideology entrenching a material social hierarchy. And according to him, this social context has not changed sufficiently for us to be able to apply the term “racism” to the views of Black people.

Bonacich, Alimahomed, and Wilson offer a (more Marxist-oriented) structural understanding of racism on a global scale when they suggest that the entire global system of racialized exploitation of labor “depends upon racial understandings – that the lives of some people, and some workers, are less important than those of the dominant group (typically White and Western)” (2008, p. 352). They argue that “under colonialism, this domination was overt and clear. Now it is obscured by corporate rather than state domination” (2008, p. 351) – where corporations are able to “search the world for the most rightless and disempowered workers” (2008, p. 351). They consider that subordinate racialized workers are thus in a position of “being forced to accept bargains of desperation” – often characterized by low wages and unsafe working conditions (2008, p. 351). They see the attendant racism as rooted in the structural position of those globally subordinated along racialized lines – and, in somewhat similar fashion to Bonilla-Silva, they thus reserve the term “racism” for an understanding of racism at a structural level.

Debates about the definition of racism and whether Black people might be termed “racist” continue in “popular” discourse. For example, one blogspot (2009) discusses the definition advanced by Martha Barry – racial justice programmer at the YMCA of Greater Milwaukee – who defines racism as “prejudice plus privilege plus power to oppress” (cf. http://freeracine.blogspot.com/2009/03/redefining-racism.html). She thus invokes the institutional/collective account of racism that I introduced in  Chapter 2, Sections 2.3.5 and 2.3.6, where racism is defined in terms of what Bonilla-Silva calls the “perpetuation of [racial] inequality in the social order.” Some responses to this as given on the blogspot argue that this “lets off the hook” non-White people from being able to be considered as “racist.” In terms of this definition, they seemingly cannot be racist as they lack the requisite institutional power. However, other commentators argue that the purpose of linking (collective) power to the definition of racism

is not to let minorities off the hook [but to] also acknowledge that racism does not just exist on an individual basis. It is very collective. So, while not all individual whites have “power” they are part of a collective power structure.

The same commentator later suggests that we refrain from trying to compare White racism (which he sees as linked to a system of power) with the individual orientations of certain Black people who may not “like White people.” He notes that White racism and Black people’s derogatory labeling of others are “two different problems with two different solutions.” He indicates that it is for this reason that he supports Martha Barry’s insistence on including the dimension of collective power in the definition of racism – so as to highlight that we cannot approach these different issues in the same way. However, many commentators in the blog (who appear to me to be White) do not support this view and instead consider racism as a matter of (racial) prejudice – no matter who is harboring it.

It may be noted in this regard that, as African American activist and writer Victor Lewis, on a tour to Australia pointed out (1996), it can be considered as in the interests of White people not to view racism as a system of power – because “if it’s viewed as a system of individual attitudes then we can conceive of it as something that a person either has or doesn’t have.” This in turn means that White people do not need to concern themselves with trying to “interfere with, to disrupt and afflict those institutions which persist in squashing the life possibilities of people of color.” As he notes, “if we look at racism as a system of [collective] power instead, then not being part of the problem is not an option [for people – including for Whites] because racism is woven into the very fabric of our social order.” A definition of racism that is linked solely to individual prejudice thus for him lets off the hook Whites in terms of (collectively) organizing to try to address their collective White privilege and power.

I have not in this book tried to deal with the issue of whether and in what conditions we might consider Black people’s uses of derogatory labels for Whites and others as “racist” – as my focus has been on the continuity between past and present forms of racism privileging those defined as White. Other writers may wish to explore further the contestation and implications for definitions of racism in regard to Blacks’ racial labeling of Whites and others – also considering at the same time what it might mean to shy away from using such labeling in order to try to construct what Bonacich, Alimahomed, and Wilson call “a better world” (2008, p. 352).

Meanwhile, my focus in this book has been on offering proposals/options for inquiry around new forms of racism in a manner that can be regarded as consistent with the quest to co-construct experiences of more humane forms of knowing and living.

Footnotes

  1. 1.

    Mehta here uses the terminology of method when she suggests that “much depends on how methods are used” (2008, p. 246). However, she seems to be using the term in a similar way to my use of the term procedure – where, for example, different methods/techniques of data collection might be harnessed (such as questionnaires, observation of behavior, structured or unstructured interviews, etc.) as part of the research. For example, Nier et al.’s experimentation (as a procedure) involved a number of techniques of data collection (2001); and as De Vaus (1996) notes, survey research too is not necessarily limited only to questionnaires as a source of data. Also, while “intensive interviewing” as a way of proceeding does seem to imply a concentration on one way of conversing with participants (i.e., intensively), even it can involve variation (as I showed in  Chapter 5). And ethnography too can involve a number of techniques (as mentioned by Hammersley and Atkinson (1995)), as can action research – which can draw on the use of any “tool” that helps to facilitate inquiry in action.

  2. 2.

    If, as Kuhn (1962) suggests, paradigms are incommensurable it would seem that one cannot mix the approaches in any coherent fashion. For this reason, Flood and Romm propose that we rather speak of (in)commensurability to show that some translatability (or rather, bases for comparison between approaches) can be constructed (2006a, pp. 7–8). We point out that the apparently incomparable options can be made comparable by setting out relevant terms for discussion around them.

  3. 3.

    In the case of the Zambian research, the inquiry processes employed were a survey; rapid rural assessment workshops; a peer education training process; and a national workshop. When administering our survey, the idea of using the survey was to employ it with the (intervention) intention of rendering more discussable issues that would normally have been considered undiscussable, but which nevertheless were regarded as questions that needed to be addressed. In rapid assessment workshops, the intervention intention was not only to raise issues for discussion at local level, but to create space for developing social capacity, including possibilities for intervention at national as well as sectoral level. In the peer education process, the intention was that capacitated peer educators could continue with learning/discussion processes after the formal research process had “ended,” and could encourage the development of options for action (at various levels of action) to address informal sector workers’ discussed needs. In the national workshop, the intention was to strengthen the debate around ways of dealing with HIV/AIDS in the light of concerns brought forth from (more or less vulnerable) participants as well as from research assistants and research consultants (McKay & Romm, 2008b, p. 392). In the overall design, each methodological stage set up opportunities for further stages. The mixed research design was thus sequential in this case rather than concurrent – to use the terminology of Creswell and Plano-Clark (2007).

  4. 4.

    It is worth noting here that Carlis Douglas and Susan Weil, in commenting (during August 2008) on my exploration in  Chapter 7 of their action research inquiries, found important that I managed to acknowledge, and render credible, various normally scantly used ways of referencing their recounting, such as in a PhD thesis, in an inaugural lecture, and in personal communications.

  5. 5.

    Since Carlis Douglas alerted me to this, I asked in conversation around this book (in December 2008) Abimbola Olateju (from Nigeria) whether she had any experiences of this kind of thinking. She mentioned that Nigerians in both South Africa and Nigeria sometimes use skin-whitening chemicals (even on their children) and that perhaps this points to a similar kind of mentality of Whiteness as “better.” When I asked her why she thought that this skin whitening was proceeding, she indicated that she had not considered this further and had never asked the people doing it. In relation to this anecdote of hers, I would suggest that further more in-depth exploration might be advisable to offer another glimpse of African complicity in perpetuating these hierarchies.

  6. 6.

    Jubber indicates in this regard that “ethnicity and ethnic identity, rather than being less salient [after apartheid], have become more salient post-1994” (2007, p. 536). He notes that in particular South African coloreds – particularly sensitive to “issues of identity” – have tried to bring such issues to the fore for social discussion (2007, p. 536).

  7. 7.

    This would take into account Baber’s argument that we can also apply the concept of racism to the racialization of identities in India. He notes that normally “‘racism’ is thought of as something that white people do to us. What Indians do to one another is variously described as ‘communalism’, ‘regionalism’ and ‘casteism’ but never ‘racism’” (2004, p. 701). He argues that once we recognize that racial constructs are constructs of “power, ideologies and differential resource allocations,” we can begin to better appreciate the social relations in India in terms of an understanding of “how racism works overtly and covertly even though race as such does not exist” (2004, p. 712). He contends that the so-called clash of cultures between Muslims and Hindus in India too can be understood as a “specific form of ‘cultural racism’ at work” (2004, p. 713). And even among Muslims in India, he notes divisions between Shias and Sunnis emerging as status distinctions – again racializing the religious distinctions (2004, p. 714).

  8. 8.

    Often when I mentioned to White people in South Africa that I was writing a book on researching new racism, they asked whether I was including emerging forms of Black racism in relation to Whites in South Africa – to which I replied that this was not my focus, with my concentration being rather on ways of exploring (persistent) forms of racism advantaging White people across the globe.

  9. 9.

    Bonilla-Silva points out that “the incorporation of groups into the USA white category has shown, so far, to have some epidermic boundaries, that is, groups and individuals added to the category have been European looking” (2006, p. 196).

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South AfricaManaba BeachSouth Africa

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