Marxism and Class, Gender and Race: Rethinking the Trilogy

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Karl Marx Pages: 14 (5187 words) Published: August 29, 2013
MARXISM AND CLASS, GENDER AND RACE:
RETHINKING THE TRILOGY
Published (2001) in RACE, GENDER & CLASS, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 23-33, special issue on Marxism and Race, Gender & Class. It is posted here with permission of Jean Belkhir, Editor Introduction

A taken for granted feature of most social science publications today, especially those about inequality, is the ritual critique of Marx and Marxism in the process of introducing theoretical alternatives intended to remedy its alleged "failures." This practice became popular in early feminist literature: Marx and Marxists were criticized for not developing an in-depth analysis of the oppression of women, their "economism," "class reductionism," and "sex blind" categories of analysis. Soon after it became common place to assert that Marxism was also at fault for neglecting race, demography, ethnicity, the environment and practically everything that mattered to the "new social movements" in the West. As the movements died, scholarship informed by those political concerns flourished; the energy that might have been spent in the public arena found expression in academic programs (e.g., women's studies, racial/ethnic studies) and efforts to increase "diversity" in the curriculum and the population of educational institutions. Publication of the journal Race, Sex & Class (changed afterwards to Race, Gender & Class), in 1993, signaled the convergence of those political and intellectual interests into a new social science perspective that soon acquired enormous visibility, as demonstrated by the proliferation of journal articles and books with race, gender and class in their titles. This perspective, put forth primarily but not exclusively by social scientists of color, emerged as a reaction to feminist theories which neglected racial/ethnic and class differences among women, theories of racial/ethnic inequality which neglected sexism among men of color and, predictably, as a corrective to Marxism's alleged shortcomings. For example, Jean Belkhir, editor and founder of Race, Sex & Class, prefaces an article on this topic as follows: "The "Failure" Of Marxism To Develop Adequate Tools and A Comprehensive Theory of Ethnicity, Gender and Class Issues is Undisputable" (Belkhir, 1994: 79). The list of putative "failures" could be as long as we wanted it to be but what would that prove, beyond the fact that Marx's and Engels' political and theoretical priorities differed from those of contemporary social scientists? Less biased, albeit debatable, is the conclusion that Marxism, although offering "crucial and unparalleled insights" into the operation of capitalism, "needs to develop the analytical tools to investigate the study of racism, sexism and classism" (Belkhir, 1994: 79). To refer to class as "classism" is, from the standpoint of Marxist theory, "a deeply misleading formulation" (Eagleton, 1996: 57; see also Kandal, 1995: 143) because class is not simply another ideology legitimating oppression; it denotes exploitative relations between people mediated by their relations to the means of production. Nevertheless, it is the case that neither Marx nor Engels devoted the intensity of effort to the investigation of gender and race (and other issues) that would have satisfied today's critics. It is (and any literature review would support this point) far easier to emphasize their "sins" of omission and -- in light of current political sensibilities -- commission, than it is to use their theoretical and methodological contributions to theorize and investigate those aspects of capitalist social formations that today concern us. Notable exceptions are Berberoglu (1994), who has examined the underlying class forces leading to gender and racial divisions in the U.S. working class, linking gender and racial oppression to capital accumulation, and Kandal (1995), who has forcefully argued for the need to avoid the racialization and feminization of social conflicts while...

References: Andersen, Margaret L. and Patricia Hill Collins. 1995. Race, Class, and Gender. An anthology. Second edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Barnett, Bernice McNair, Rose Brewer and M. Bahati Kuumba, 1999. "New Directions in Race, Gender & Class Studies: African American Experiences." Race, Gender & Class, 6, 2, 7-28.
Belkhir, Jean. 1994. "The 'Failure ' and Revival of Marxism on Race, Gender & Class Issues." Race, Sex & Class. 2 1, 79-107.
--------. 1993. "Editor 's Introduction: Integrating Race, Sex & Class in Our disciplines." Race, Sex & Class. 1 1, 3-11.
Berberoglu, Berch. 1994. "Class, Race & Gender: The Triangle of Oppression." Race, Sex & Class, 2, 1, 69-77.
Gorelick, Sherry. 1996. "Contradictions of feminist methodology," in Esther Ngan-Ling Chow, D. Wilkinson and M. Baca Zinn, eds., Race, Class & Gender. Common bonds, Different Voices. Thousand Oaks/London/Dehli: Sage Publications.
Collins, Patricia Hill. 1993. "Toward a New Vision: Race, Class and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection." Race, Sex & Class, 1, 1, 25-45.
_______, 1997. "On West and Fenstermaker 's 'Doing Difference, '" in Mary Roth Walsh, ed., Women, Men and Gender. Ongoing Debates. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 73-75.
Eagleton, Terry. 1996. The Illusions of Postmodernism. London: Blackwell.
Gimenez, Martha E. 1975. "Marxism and Feminism." Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 1, 1, 61-80.
_______, 1990. "The Feminization of Poverty: Myth of Reality?" Social Justice, 17, 3, 43-69.
Kandal, Terry. 1995. "Gender, Race & Ethnicity: Let 's not Forget Class." Race, Gender & Class. 2, 2, 139-162.
Jacobi, Russell. 1973. "The Politics of Subjectivity." New Left Review, 79, 37-49.
Marx, Karl. 1994."Theses on Feuerbach." in L. Simon, ed., Karl Marx. Selected Writings. New York: Hackett.
------. 1994. "The German Ideology." in Simon, op. cit.
Ossowski, Stanislaw. 1963. Class Structure in the Social Consciousness. New York: The Free Press of Glencoe.
Rose, Stephen J. 1992. Social Stratification in the United States: The American Profile Poster Revised and Expanded. New York: New Press.
West, Candace and Sarah Fenstermaker. 1997. "Doing Difference," in Mary Roth Walsh, ed., op. cit., 58-72.
Wright, Erik. O. 1978. Class, Crisis and the State. London: Verso.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Race Gender and Class Essay
  • Race Class and Gender in Learning Essay
  • Race, Class, & Gender Essay
  • Race and Gender Essay
  • The Meanings of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality Essay
  • Essay about Defining the Concepts of Class, Race, Gender, and Intersectionality
  • Race, Class & Gender Essay
  • Gender Race and Class in the Media Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free
Adrienne C. Moore | RyanReynolds | HD Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)