Race in the Making: Cognition, Culture, and the Child's Construction of Human Kinds

Race in the Making: Cognition, Culture, and the Child's Construction of Human Kinds

by Lawrence A. Hirschfeld

Hardcover

$13.75

Overview

Race in the Making provides a new understanding of how people conceptualize social categories and shows why this knowledge is so readily recruited to create and maintain systems of unequal power.

Hirschfeld argues that knowledge of race is not derived from observations of physical difference nor does it develop in the same way as knowledge of other social categories. Instead, his central claim is that racial thinking is the product of a special-purpose cognitive competence for understanding and representing human kinds. The book also challenges the conventional wisdom that race is purely a social construction by demonstrating that a common set of abstract principles underlies all systems of racial thinking, whatever other historical and cultural specificities may be associated with them.

Starting from the commonplace observation that race is a category of both power and the mind, Race in the Making directly tackles this issue. Through a sustained exploration of continuity and change in the child's notion of race and across historical variations in the race concept, Hirschfeld shows that a singular commonsense theory about human kinds constrains the way racial thinking changes, whether in historical time or during childhood.

After surveying the literature on the development of a cultural psychology of race, Hirschfeld presents original studies that examine children's (and occasionally adults') representations of race. He sketches how a jointly cultural and psychological approach to race might proceed, showing how this approach yields new insights into the emergence and elaboration of racial thinking.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262082471
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 05/15/1996
Series: Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author


Susan Carey is the Henry A. Morss Jr. and Elisabeth W. Morss Professor of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She is the first woman to receive the 2009 David E. Rumelhart Prize, given annually since 2001 for significant contributions to the theoretical foundation of human cognition.

What People are Saying About This

Douglas Medin

Hirschfeld's book represents cognitive sceince at its best... insightful, provocative, and very relevant.

The Sciences - David Berreby

[S]tartling, subtle and challenging.... Hirschfeld's book has the great merit of suggesting a beginning for a real discipline that might replace 5,000 years of futile platitudes about why it is that We hate Them.

Endorsement

[S]tartling, subtle and challenging.... Hirschfeld's book has the great merit of suggesting a beginning for a real discipline that might replace 5,000 years of futile platitudes about why it is that We hate Them.

David Berreby, The Sciences

From the Publisher

Given the growing interest in the interface between the cognitive and the social sciences, and Lawrence Hirschfeld's uniquely serious and indeed deep understanding of the problems at this interface, given the importance of his chosen topic, and the richness of his positive contribution, I have no doubt that this book will be recognized as a landmark.

Dan Sperber , Directeur de Recherche au Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

Hirschfeld's book, Race in the Making is interdisciplinary research at its finest. Hirschfeld reviews for psychologists the historical 'social construction' views of race prevalent in the social sciences, and to anthropologists, historians, and sociologists, he reviews the 'race as independent variable' treatment prevalent in psychology. His own brilliant resolution of the limitations of both of these approaches is a major contribution to our understanding of social cognition and of cognitive development.

Susan Carey , Professor of Psychology, MIT

Hirschfeld's book represents cognitive sceince at its best. . . insightful, provocative, and very relevant.

Douglas Medin , Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University

[S]tartling, subtle and challenging. . . . Hirschfeld's book has the great merit of suggesting a beginning for a real discipline that might replace 5,000 years of futile platitudes about why it is that We hate Them.

David Berreby , The Sciences

Dan Sperber

Given the growing interest in the interface between the cognitive and the social sciences, and Lawrence Hirschfeld's uniquely serious and indeed deep understanding of the problems at this interface, given the importance of his chosen topic, and the richness of his positive contribution, I have no doubt that this book will be recognized as a landmark.

Susan Carey

Hirschfeld's book, Race in the Making is interdisciplinary research at its finest. Hirschfeld reviews for psychologists the historical 'social construction' views of race prevalent in the social sciences, and to anthropologists, historians, and sociologists, he reviews the 'race as independent variable' treatment prevalent in psychology. His own brilliant resolution of the limitations of both of these approaches is a major contribution to our understanding of social cognition and of cognitive development.

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