Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 14:46:46 -0400 From: "Peter L. Patrick" 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.