The White Working Class, Racism and Respectability: Victims, Degenerates and Interest-Convergence

This paper argues that race and class inequalities cannot be fully understood in isolation: their intersectional quality is explored through an analysis of how the White working class were portrayed in popular and political discourse during late 2008 (the timing is highly significant). While global capitalism reeled on the edge of financial melt-down, the essential values of neo-liberalism were reasserted as natural, moral and efficient through two apparently contrasting discourses. First, a victim discourse presented White working people, and their children in particular, as suffering educationally because of minoritised racial groups and their advocates. Second a discourse of degeneracy presented an immoral and barbaric underclass as a threat to social and economic order. Applying the 'interest-convergence principle', from Critical Race Theory, the discourses amount to a strategic mobilisation of White interests where the 'White, but not quite' status of the working class (Allen, 2009) provides a buffer zone at a time of economic and cultural crisis which secures societal White supremacy and provides a further setback to progressive reforms that focus on race, gender and disability equality. The existence of poor Whites, therefore, is not only consistent with a regime of White supremacy — they are actually an essential part of the processes that sustain it
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DOI 10.1080/00071000903516361
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Where We Stand: Class Matters.Kim Q. Hall - 2003 - Hypatia 18 (2):233-236.

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