American Sociological Association

Working at the Intersection of Race and Public Policy: The Promise (and Perils) of Putting Research to Work for Societal Transformation

Today, race and ethnicity scholars generate a wealth of important research that documents the parameters of racial and/or ethnic inequality, how such inequality persists, and how it relates to, or intersects with, other dimensions of social life. Here we argue that these scholars should devote their abundant intellectual energies not only to illuminating the parameters and causes of racial injustice but also to producing work that might shift popular understandings and stimulate change. We ask, how can we collectively be more deliberate and strategic in grappling with how to do research that matters in the world? This is not a new question but places us within a long tradition of race scholars who were, and are, deeply invested in producing knowledge in service of societal transformation. In what follows we take up the question of how to do work that is intellectually rigorous and deeply engaged. Specifically, we offer a close examination of the intersection of racial and/or ethnic research and public policy. We begin by arguing for a much broader definition of public policy than typically gets deployed within academic institutions. We then turn to outlining some of the opportunities and challenges of trying to do this work. Finally we provide a number of concrete examples of how scholars of race/ethnicity can and do deploy their research in the world.


Lewis, A. E., Embrick, D. G.





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