Racial Culture: A Critique

Racial Culture: A Critique

by Richard T. Ford
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691128693

ISBN-13: 9780691128696

Pub. Date: 07/17/2006

Publisher: Princeton University Press

What is black culture? Does it have an essence? What do we lose and gain by assuming that it does, and by building our laws accordingly? This bold and provocative book questions the common presumption of political multiculturalism that social categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality are defined by distinctive cultural practices.

Richard Ford

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Overview

What is black culture? Does it have an essence? What do we lose and gain by assuming that it does, and by building our laws accordingly? This bold and provocative book questions the common presumption of political multiculturalism that social categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality are defined by distinctive cultural practices.

Richard Ford argues against law reform proposals that would attempt to apply civil rights protections to "cultural difference." Unlike many criticisms of multiculturalism, which worry about "reverse discrimination" or the erosion of core Western cultural values, the book's argument is primarily focused on the adverse effects of multicultural rhetoric and multicultural rights on their supposed beneficiaries.

In clear and compelling prose, Ford argues that multicultural accounts of cultural difference do not accurately describe the practices of social groups. Instead these accounts are prescriptive: they attempt to canonize a narrow, parochial, and contestable set of ideas about appropriate group culture and to discredit more cosmopolitan lifestyles, commitments, and values.

The book argues that far from remedying discrimination and status hierarchy, "cultural rights" share the ideological presuppositions, and participate in the discursive and institutional practices, of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Ford offers specific examples in support of this thesis, in diverse contexts such as employment discrimination, affirmative action, and transracial adoption.

This is a major contribution to our understanding of today's politics of race, by one of the most distinctive and important young voices in America's legal academy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691128696
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/17/2006
Pages:
248
Sales rank:
953,485
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Preface vii

PREAMBLE 1
Difference Discourse 4
Political Philosophy 5
Legal Scholarship 11
Legalism 13
Ideology 14
Lexicon 17
Overview of the Book 20

CHAPTER 1. DIFFERENCE DISCOURSE 23
A (Abridged) History of Difference 29
The Production of Group Difference as Common Knowledge 36
The "Repressive Hypothesis" 36
"Diversity": Difference Discourse as Corrupt Détente 42
Alan Bakke: Multiculturalist? 44
CHAPTER 2. IDENTITIES AS COLLECTIVE ACTION 59
Identity as Social Performance 61
Free Time 64
Recognition of Difference as Protective Custody 67
Rights as Public Policy 68
Rights-to-Difference Require an Official Account of Group Difference 70
Difference Discourse as Social Discipline: Delegitimation and Stereotyping 74
Cultural Reservations 78
Copyrights-to-Difference: Culture as Property 88
Identity Consciousness: Less Is More 90
Group Consciousness without Cultural Romanticism 91
Culture Distinguished from Status 93
Against "Racial Characteristics" 97
Status and Immutability 100
Intimacy and Identity 116
CHAPTER 3. "CULTURAL DISCRIMINATION" 125
Why "Cultural Bias" Is Like Death and Taxes 127
Background Rules as Cultural Discrimination 127
The Inevitability of Discriminatory Laws 130
Everyone Can Make a Difference: Difference Discourse as Cultural Zeitgeist 132
Difference as an Expensive Taste 139
Institutional Cultures 142
Institutions, Culture and Intergroup Conflict 148
Cosmopolitan Difference 156
The Cosmopolitan and the Province: An Ideological Reorientation 162
CHAPTER 4. THE ENDS OF ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW 169
Civil Rights as a Limited Mechanism of Social Justice 170
Anti-discrimination Law and Joint Costs 172
Doctrinal Reform 179
Disparate Treatment 181
Disparate Impact 183
Rogers Redux: Toward a Pragmatic Approach to Difference 195
Alternative Approaches to Group Conflict and Social Injustice 203

POSTSCRIPT: BEYOND DIFFERENCE 211
Notes 215
Index 227

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