Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 14:46:46 -0400
Subject: Re: poor whites

I meant to post on this before but didn't have my copy available.
The Winter 96 issue of Human Organization has an article by Jane
Gibson that I found very helpful: "The Social Construction of
Whiteness in Shellcracker Haven, Florida".Abstract:

This artiocle examines the ways in which socially coinstructed racial
categories are operationalized. It challenges popular and scholarly
representations of the meanings of "whiteness" and considers processes
of racial identity formation uin the production of white poverty. The
primary thesis is that poor whites... are racially denigrated in the
context of the historically specific social, political and economic
processes that pauperize them. These processes are necessarily unique
because, unlike visible minorities whose distinctive physiognomy
facilitates socially constructed differentiation, the distancing and
devaluation of poor whites requires other tactics. These include
constrcution of stereotyped images, behaviors and values which create
social distance and "explain" white poverty. A secondary thesis holds
that racial denigration of poor whites intensifies racism. Racism acts
as a unilateral (and seldom reciprocated) assertion of membership in
privileged white society. It also blocks identification with others
who... also find themselves poor and disenfranchised. By promoting
racism aimed at non-white social groups, racism aimed at poor whites
protects the status quo of the distribution of power and privilege in
the US.

If you find the abstract a bit dense, as I did at first,
Gibson's wonderful case study of a poor N Fla fishing community makes
a lot of it clear and vivid. She also points out how few studies of
poor whites consider race as a relevant category and cites some of the
few, most of them studies of Appalachia.
--peter p.