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Constructions of 'Race' in Culture and Politics - Essay Example

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Constructions of ’Race’ in Culture and Politics: How convincing do you find Stuart Hall’s approach to ‘race’? Stuart Hall is renowned as a cultural theorist who has made remarkable contributions to cultural studies. He has exerted great influence particularly on the racial thinking in the UK and he is regarded as a transitional giant who has rewritten and reconstructed concepts in the Marxist lexicon and applied them to the new conditions of society, “such as transformation of European nations into multicultural societies, the emergence of new media, the meaning of race and racial domination, the situation and identities of intellectuals in post-colonial regions, and the ideologie…
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Constructions of Race in Culture and Politics
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Download file to see previous pages On the other hand, he also argues that “contemporary articulations of "race" and racism could not be explained merely through references to capitalism, class differentiation, or false ideology, but also needed to be located in the cultural, political, and social realms (Dua, Razack, & Warner 2005). As such, Hall conceives both sociological and economic tendencies as central to the ‘racially-structured social formations’ that govern racism (Hall 1980, p. 305). It is worthwhile to analyze Hall’s economic as well as social approaches to race. While Hall regarded sociological and economic tendencies as ‘two broad dominant tendencies’ that contribute towards ‘racially-structured social formations’ (Hall 1980, p. 305), he never fails to admit that social divisions and economic structures are inherent in any societies. Following his economic approach to race, Hall purported that it is the ‘economic structures and processes’ that contribute towards “those social divisions which assume a distinctively racial or ethnic character” (Hall 1980, p. 306). It has also been pointed out by Hancock and Garner (2009, p. 199) that both economics and race, even though they are autonomous, are connected to each other “through different modes of production at social, political, and ideological levels that are historically specific and socially constructed.” For Hall it is because of this factor that various modes of exploitation are still prevalent among various groups of the workforce. In the same way, Hall’s sociological approach also takes into account such aspects as the ‘social relations between different racial or ethnic strata,’ cultural differences and ethnicity, political domination, and exploitation of racial distinctions (Hall 1980, p. 306). While issues of race or ethnicity are more likely to be viewed as social or cultural feature Hall held that “racial structures cannot be understood adequately outside the framework of quite specific sets of economic relations” (Hall 1980, p. 308). As such, it can be seen that Hall’s social and economic approaches to race are interrelated. In his views on racism and ethnicity Hall was immensely influenced by Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, the theory of articulation, and Althusser’s notion of ideology and interpellation. While Hall employed Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony to show ‘the relationship between culture and power’ and how culture plays a pivotal role in establishing and reproducing ‘social and political domination’, he convincingly postulated how the specific meanings attached to a particular race or class culminate in the ‘reproduction of a specific social and economic order’ (Hancock & Garner 2009, pp. 190-192). It has also been pointed out by Hall that race operates and structures both dominance and resistance in the society. Instances of hegemony can also be seen in institutional racism where even organizations are governed by the racist attitudes that haunt the society as a whole. In the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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