"Making sense of mistreatment: intersectionality and perceptions of everyday discrimination”

Dr. Catherine E. Harnois, Professor in the Department of Sociology and a core faculty member in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University. 

Monday, March 19, 2018


Room 114, Belk Library and Information Commons

Appalachian State University.

This talk is free and open to the public, sponsored by the Department of Sociology and co-sponsored by Appalachian's Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies program.

Harnois will address that in some cases, it is clear why discrimination occurs. In most cases, however, the reason for discriminatory treatment is less clear. Those who discriminate against others seldom provide a rationale for their behavior, potentially leaving those who experience mistreatment with a host of questions about the event: What just happened? Why did that happen? Is it something about me? Is it something about them? For people with multiple minority statuses, answering these questions may be especially difficult. Intersectionality is a theoretical perspective that conceptualizes systems of inequality as mutually reinforcing and co-constitutive at multiple levels of society. When applied to issues of discrimination, intersectionality emphasizes that (1) all people have multiple social statuses, (2) individuals’ identities are forged at the intersection of these social statuses, and (3) interpersonal interactions, such as discrimination, often stem from the interplay of multiple statuses and identities. This study analyzes data from interviews with 20 racial/ethnic minority men and women in North Carolina to examine how individuals make sense of their day-to-day mistreatment, and specifically how they understand the reason for their being treated unfairly. We conclude by examining the implications of intersectionality for survey question design and anti-discrimination policy. 

Catherine E. Harnois is Professor in the Department of Sociology and a core faculty member in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University. Her research is rooted in multiracial feminist theories of intersectionality, and has appeared in the journals Gender & Society,Ethnic and Racial StudiesSociological ForumSocial Psychology QuarterlySocial Science & Medicine, and other scholarly outlets.  Dr. Harnois’ work on the importance of intersectionality for measuring and modeling racial-ethnic discrimination received the 2012 Outstanding Contribution to Scholarship Article Award from the American Sociological Association section on Race, Gender, and Class.  Her book, Feminist Measures in Survey Research (Sage Publications, 2013) draws from feminist philosophies of science, standpoint theory, and multiracial feminist theory to consider what it means to bring an intersectional approach to social science survey research.  


About the Department of Sociology
The Department of Sociology offers a Bachelor of Arts and six Bachelor of Science concentrations (applied research methods; criminology; deviance and law; families and intimate relationships; gerontology; social inequalities; and individually designed, which requires departmental approval). The department also offers minors in sociology and gerontology, plus two online graduate certificates in gerontology and sociology. Learn more at https://soc.appstate.edu.

By Janelle Shuford
Feb. 23, 2018

Published: Feb 23, 2018 4:12pm