Foreword: The Politics of Racial & Class Inequalities in the Americas



The Double Bind: The Politics of Racial & Class Inequalities in the Americas

Rodney Hero, University of California, Berkeley

The importance of social class and of race and ethnicity as powerful forces in political systems is broadly recognized and frequently studied. The structures of each phenomenon, the particular configurations—class patterns and distributions, racial patterns or “orderings”—vary across and within countries (and even within specific groups and regions and in other ways), as well as over time. Their contours and possible or actual interconnections are influenced by internal and external factors—however rapidly or slowly—over time. The particular conditions of both class and race typically are linked to and legacies of social and political histories, racial and economic formations, and political economies, among other phenomena. Based on these assumptions, a major premise of this task force report is that political science research can and should undertake analyses that provide broader and deeper insights warranted by the interaction of racial and class inequalities. Understanding whether, in what ways, how much, why, and with which implications the two sets of social forces are present and interact—including as identified and applied in political science scholarship on these issues—is a central goal and focus of this task force. Moreover, we engage these issues as they occur in “the Americas.” In several respects, then, we sought to advance a new—or at least underdeveloped— research agenda and focus on the social aspect of politics and on countries not often compared and contrasted by political scholars.