American Sociological Association

Inequality Frames: How Teachers Inhabit Color-blind Ideology

This paper examines how public school teachers take up, modify, or resist the dominant ideology of color-blind racism. This examination is based on in-depth interviews with 60 teachers at three segregated schools: one was race/class privileged and two were disadvantaged. Inductive coding revealed that teachers at each school articulated a shared frame to talk about race and class: “legitimated advantage” at Heritage High School, “trickle-down dysfunction” at Bunker High School, and “antiracist dignity” at Solidarity High School. Each represents an inequality frame: a local meaning system that mediates the dominant race/class ideology, arising from teachers’ shared experiences of inequality in the school-as-workplace. The frames I observed responded to three organizational conditions that affected teachers’ experiences of inequality: school demographics, material resources, and professional culture. Variations in these conditions across schools provided opportunity spaces for teachers to either accept race/class domination as common sense or to critique it.


Jessica S. Cobb





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