How does the idea of intersectionality relate to the study of race, racism, and popular culture?

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How does the idea of intersectionality relate to the study of race, racism, and popular culture? With reference to material provided, discuss race and class intersections. How does the idea of “race” get shaped by class intersecting social positions? What kinds of expressions, either representational (i.e., popular cultural images) or structural (i.e., social and political realities), do these intersections take on? Class = prison population and ‘criminals’ vs. kingpins and white collar crime. This module gets into the question of “intersections”. This refers to a particular approach taken on by many scholars in studying race and racism both in its historical and contemporary expressions. The idea is that a significant part of the impact and legacy of the idea of race, and indeed of racism, is in how race comes to intersect with a range of other subject positions. The intersections between race and socio-economic class have become of particular significance for scholars studying race and racism both in the present and historically. Thinking about race-class intersections essentially means thinking about how racialized groups become locked into certain class positions in society. People become “classed” in society at the same time as they are “raced”. For one thing, we might think about this in terms of the kinds of stereotyped symbolic connections between race and class that exist out there in the public imaginary (i.e., whiteness associated with suburban middle or upper-middle class lifestyles, and so). But the point of significance for many scholars in thinking about how race and class intersect goes well just symbolic or ideological intersections – race and class intersect in fundamentally structural ways. The cases examined in this module will show some of the ways in which racialized groups become structured into a certain class arrangement, and moreover, how that class arrangement comes about precisely through race & racism. As you will see in the readings and media segments for this module, one of the significant ways that this happens is through the history of racial redlining (see the segment from Race: The House We Live In). This refers to the history of how the American real estate market across the 20th century was systematically structured to deny mortgages (and thus property ownership opportunities) to Black people. The other case to think about is the rise, and force, of the Prison Industrial Complex in North America society. This refers to the commercial profit-seeking dimension of the institution of the prison. The development of the Prison Industrial Complex has significant ties to race-class intersections given (a) the obviously disproportionate representation of racialized people in the North American prison population, (b) the clear down-classing effect that prison sentences cause, and then (c) the amount of wealth generated by/for private prison corporations in recent decades that benefit financially from booming prison populations. These dynamics of the Prison Industrial Complex at the same also ties very significantly into contemporary popular culture, as the institution of the “prison” has come to occupy a very particular place in popular consciousness. Popular culture has become filled with stories set in prison, about prisons, and prisoners, especially with the rise of popular prison-based dramas like Oz, Prison Break, and of course, Orange is the New Black.

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