Posted: April 22nd, 2022
It will cover only the materials from Farganis, Chapters 14 and 13 of the course, on Race, Sex, & Gender theories. There will be three questions total that you have to answer, one for each of the roman numerals provided. You may choose from an option of two questions for each category. I. WEB DuBois & Race Consciousness/Experience (answer only one prompt from the choices below): 1) W.E.B. DuBois (“The Souls of Black Folk”) introduces the concepts of the “veil” and “double-consciousness” to describe the “problem of the color line” in the U.S. at the turn of the 19th to the 20th Century. In your response, define BOTH these concepts using specific language and illustrations from the DuBois reading (see powerpoint for further elaborations). Next, explain why DuBois saw these concepts as useful theoretical frames for capturing the experiences of exclusion endured by Black people for much of American history, but also as ways to explain a sense of identity as well. Use specific examples or “scenes” from the DuBois reading to make your points (these may include his references to poetry and music as symbols of exclusion and identity). Conclude your response with a commentary on how DuBois advances the idea of one’s standpoint as a way to illustrate how members of a marginalilized group experience social exclusion or build identity, i.e., how are the concepts of the “veil” OR “double-consciousness” still relevant today to explain either racial or other forms of social exclusion OR as ways to explain senses of identity? Be specific, using an example of your own choosing (including your own personal background) but that draws theoretical parallels to DuBois. You may also use poetry or song as illustrations of exclusion or identity with a social group. 2) In class we discussed how WEB DuBois saw racial categories as “social constructions” (see readings and powerpoint). What does it mean to say that race is a “social construction,” or something that “society invents” (see Delgado and Stefancic, in Farganis, p. 414)? Refer to examples from readings and/or my powerpoint in answering the question, Next, using DuBois’s article “The Souls of Black Folk,” provide some examples from the reading that conveys the ways that America “constructed” the meaning of race at the turn of the 20th Century (from 1800s to 1900s) and how this translated into the kinds of discrImination that DuBois describes or personally experienced. Finally, turning to Delgado and Stefancic’s “Critical Race Theory,” explain the difference between “idealist” and “realist-economic determinist” views of advancing racial justice (See Farganis 416-17). Why do Delgado and Stefancic see these diffferences as crucial for understanding why racism is not simply about changing attitudes and “unmaking” racial categorizations (i.e., the social constructionist view), but also about recognizing how racial hierarchies provide “tangible benefits” for some groups versus others? Why do they think this distinction matters for advancing racial equity? II. Gender (answer this prompt) 1) West and Zimmerman (“Doing Gender”) distinguish between the concepts of sex, based in biological characteristics, sex categorization, based on the ways in which one is perceived in daily interaction, and gender, which is linked to social performances. In this essay, first define “sex categorization” and then discuss how the example of “Agnes” shows the ways in which we assign sex categorization based on “face-value” interactions without knowing much about a person’s actual biology (West & Zimmerman in Farg., 386). Second, define gender, and elaborate on how its “accomplishment” is determined through gender performances carried out in institutional or situational contexts using the examples that West & Zimmerman drawn from Goffman on “gendered” performances at work, during social occasions or in public settings. Third, given these “performances,” comment on why West and Zimmerman argue that gender equality can only be achieved when the concept of gender is decoupled from the idea of sex category as “normal” or “natural” (W&Z in Farganis, p. 391). 2) West and Zimmerman argue that “doing gender means creating differences between girls and boys and women and men, differences that are not natural, essential, or biological” (Farganis, p. 388). How does their assertion ask us to think about gender as a “social construction” (see Farganis’s overview of W&Z article, p. 361). In answering this question, first distinguish between how West and Zimmerman define the concepts of sex, based in biological characteristics, sex categorization, based on the ways in which one is perceived in daily interaction, and gender, which is linked to social performances. Provide specific examples from the reading that describe these three concepts. Next, comment on West and Zimmerman’s conclusion that gender equity can only be achieved when the idea of “doing gender” is de-coupled from the idea of sex category as “normal” or “natural” (W&Z in Farganis, p. 391). III. Race, Gender & Intersectionality (answer only one prompt from the choices below): 1) Patricia Hill Collins (“Black Feminist Thought”) argues that although “race and gender may be analytically distinct,” that they “work together” in defining the everyday lives of Black women. In this response, elaborate on two examples from Collins that express the idea of “intersectionality,” i.e., how the social forces of race, class and gender are integrally related in determining the social position of black women and the ways in which they experience racial and gender oppression (Farganis 361). How, for example, does Collins use intersectionality to describe the unique experiences of women as laborers, as mothers or as members of their respsective communities? What about the realm of “sexual politics” and/or the ways that Black women’s bodies have been devalued & exploited through labor markets (including underground economies)? Or, how does Collins see governmental policies as exploitive of poor Black women to the extent that these policies seek to regulate sexuality & family choices? Conclude your response with a statement about why Collins views the intersectional “standpoint” as critical for informing Black feminist thought and altering oppressive social conditions. 2) Collins uses the analytical frame of intersectionality – or the integral connections between race, class and gender — to better understand the standpoint of Black women and to produce a critical social theory “designed to oppose oppression” (Collins, in Farganis, 372). In this essay, describe how the work-life and communal experiences of Black women (e.g., as “mothers, othermothers, teachers and churchwomen)” can be used to generate “oppositional knowledge” to create social change (Collins 373). Provide details about these experiences as illustrated in Collins and explain how they represent a unique Black women’s standpoint capturing the reality of what Collins defines as intersecting oppressions. Finally, comment on Collins’s concluding observation that standpoint theory gives subordinated groups a “purer vision” of their oppression (Collins 382). How does Collins’s observation fit with Marx’s idea that social theory can be used to promote social change, in this case, applied to Black feminist thought?
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