Racial Mobility: The Dynamics of Race and Inequality

Séminaire joint LIEPP/OSC, vendredi 18 novembre 2016
  • A business concept - networking or teamwork, Varina Patel (via Shutterstock)A business concept - networking or teamwork, Varina Patel (via Shutterstock)

LIEPP's Discriminations and Social Inequalities Research Group and
Observatoire sociologique du changement (OSC)

Racial Mobility: The Dynamics of Race and Inequality


Friday, November 18th, 2016

12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

LIEPP's Seminar Room

LIEPP's Office, 1st Floor, 254 bvd Saint-Germain - 75007 Paris

Interested participants should register here

Aliya SAPERSTEIN (Stanford University) 

Aliya Saperstein

Professor Saperstein is LIEPP-OSC Visiting Professor from November 14th to December 14th 2016. She received her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Washington and her Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography from the University of California-Berkeley. In 2016, she received the Early Achievement Award from the Population Association of America. She has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. Her research focuses on the social processes through which people come to perceive, name, and deploy seemingly immutable categorical differences —such as race and sex—and their consequences for explaining, and reinforcing, social inequality. 


Abstract of the paper

Saperstein will introduce a "racial mobility" perspective that brings together constructivist theories of race, a social psychological approach to categorization, and the tools of sociological studies of social mobility to make the case for a more dynamic understanding of the relationship between race, discrimination, and social inequality. In particular, she argues that a person’s race or ethnicity should be conceptualized as a changeable characteristic more like their occupational or marital status than their year or place of birth. Evidence for this perspective is presented from different historical periods in the U.S., across multiple outcomes and datasets, and is consistent with results from controlled experiments. Similar patterns of selective fluidity also are evident beyond the U.S. – from the 18th century Spanish American colonies to the Roma in contemporary Europe. This “racial mobility” highlights the socially constructed nature of race without losing sight of the remarkable persistence of racialized advantage and disadvantage.

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