New Book Critical of “Racial Relations” Paradigm

Stephen Steinberg, a sociologist at Queens College – CUNY, has a new book called Race Relations: A Critique that the Chronicle of Higher Education calls “short” and “contentious” (subscription required to the Chronicle). Here’s the blurb from Stanford University Press:

“In a penetrating critique of the famed race relations paradigm, he asks why a paradigm invented four decades before the Civil Rights Revolution still dominates both academic and popular discourses four decades after that revolution.

On race, Steinberg argues that even the language of “race relations” obscures the structural basis of racial hierarchy and inequality. Generations of sociologists have unwittingly practiced a “white sociology” that reflects white interests and viewpoints. What happens, he asks, when we foreground the interests and viewpoints of the victims, rather than the perpetrators, of racial oppression?

On ethnicity, Steinberg turns the tables and shows that the early sociologists who predicted ultimate assimilation have been vindicated by history. The evidence is overwhelming that the new immigrants, including Asians and most Latinos, are following in the footsteps of past immigrants—footsteps leading into the melting pot. But even today, there is the black exception. The end result is a dual melting pot—one for peoples of African descent and the other for everybody else.

Race Relations: A Critique
cuts through layers of academic jargon to reveal unsettling truths that call into question the nature and future of American nationality.”

I haven’t read it yet, but it’s going on the top of the list for reading over the break between semesters.


  1. Joe

    This is an important book, and Steinberg is on targed about a white paradigm. But Steinberg exaggerates the movment of Asian and Latino Americans into the “melting pot.” Their assimilation is often coerced and oppressive, and far from equal to that of European immigrants….

    They may not face as much racial discrimination and other oppression as Black Americans, but they face a great deal of such oppression. The white racist framing of Asian and Latino Americans, and the discrimination resulting therefrom, has a very heavy and negative impact on them.

  2. Tom Volscho

    I just started the book and the main argument of the book was a working assumption of a graduate seminar on Racism taught by Noel Cazenave.

    Steinberg mentions how language is important with “race relations” being the language of the oppressor and “racial oppression” being the the language of those on the receiving end of white supremacy.

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