The Meaning of Difference: American Constructions of Race, Sex and Gender, Social Class, and Sexual Orientation

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  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2002-07-26
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages
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The Meaning of Difference is a combined text-reader about the social construction of difference as that operates in American formulations of race, sex and gender, social class, and sexual orientation. It is premised on the conviction that similar processes are operating when we see difference of color, gender, class, and sexuality and that these processes likely also apply to other master statuses such as disability, ethnicity, or national-origin. Three framework essays provide the conceptual structure for the book. Each framework essay is followed by a set of readings that illustrate the concepts developed in the essays. Readings have been selected because they offer analyses that are generalizable to a variety of statuses.

Table of Contents



What is Race?

1. Who Is Black? One Nation's Definition, F. James Davis

Personal Account: A Wonderful Opportunity, R.M.A

2. Race, Censuses, and Citizenship, Melissa Nobles*

3. The Evolution of Identity, Washington Post Federal Page*

4. Census 2000: Seventeen questions from the long form*

5. Federal Indian Identification Policy, M. Annette Jaimes

6. La Raza and the Melting Pot: A Comparative Look at Multiethnicity, Carlos A. Fernandez

7. Asian American Panethnicity, Yen Le Espiritu

Personal Account: I Thought My Race Was Invisible, Sherri H. Pereira

8. Whiteness as an 'Unmarked' Cultural Category, Ruth Frankenberg

What Is Sex? What Is Gender?

9. The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough, Anne Fausto-Sterling

10. The Five Sexes Revisited, Anne Fausto-Sterling*

11. The Berdache Tradition, Walter L. Williams

12. Similarity and Difference: The Sociology of Gender Distinctions, Cynthia Fuches Epstein*

Personal Account: He Hit Her, Tim Norton

What Is Social Class?

13. Reading America: Preliminary Notes on Class and Culture, Sherry B. Ortner*

14. Why Is Class Important? Michael Zweig*

15. Getting Ahead: Economic and Social Mobility in America, Daniel McMurrer and Isabel Sawhill*

Personal Account: I Am a Pakistani Woman, Hoorie I. Siddique

What Is Sexual Orientation?

16. The Invention of Heterosexuality, Jonathan Ned Katz

17. Homosexuality: A Social Phenomenon, Barbara Sherman Heyl

18. The Development of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identities, Heidi Levine & Nancy J. Evans

Personal Account: An Opportunity to Get Even, Carol A. Mabry
Personal Account:Living Invisibly, Tara S. Ellison



19. What Are You? Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto

20. Oppression, Marilyn Frye

21. ‘Can You See the Rainbow?' The Roots of Denial, Sally French

Personal Account: I Am Legally Blind, Beth Omansky Gordon

22. How Long Must We Wait? Unmet Promises of Disability Law and Policy, Beth Omansky and Michael Oliver*

23. Please Ask Me Who, Not ‘What’ I Am, Jordan Lite*

24. The Accidental Asian, Eric Liu

25. The Day of Remembrance Ceremony, Lydia Minatoya*

26. Diversity and Its Discontents, Arturo Madrid

Personal Account: Going Home, Keeva Haynes

27. Our Classroom Barrios, Patrick Welsh*

28. Stumbling Blocks in Intercultural Communication, LaRay M. Barna*

Personal Account: Where Are You From? C.C

29. The Cost of Whiteness, Thandeka*

30. Driving While Black: A Statistician Proves That Prejudice Still Rules the Road, John Lamberth

31. A Day in the Life of Two Americas, Leonard Steinhorn and Barbara Diggs-Brown*

Personal Account: Play Some Rolling Stones, Mark Donald Stockenberg

32. Of Race and Rights, Patricia Williams

33. Anti-Gay Slurs Common at School: A Lesson in Cruelty, Laura Sessions Stepp*

Personal Account: A White Male Rescued Me, Meticia Watson

34. All Souls, Michael Patrick MacDonald*

35. A Question of Class, Dorothy Allison

Personal Account: That Moment of Visibility, Rose B. Pascarell

36. At A Slaughterhouse: Some Things Never Die, Charlie LeDuff*

37. Why Are Droves of Unqualified, Unprepared Kids Getting into Our Top Colleges? Because Their Dads Are Alumni, John Larew


Framework Essay: THE MEANING OF DIFFERENCE Law, Politics, and Policy

38. Twelve Key Supreme Court Cases

39. Group Rights: Reconciling Equality and Difference, David Ingram*

40. The Shape of the River: The Long-term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions, William G. Bowen and Derek Bok

41. Social Movements and the Politics of Difference, Cheryl Zarlenga Kerchis and Iris Marion Young

Personal Account: Memories of Summer Camp, Patricia Kelly

42. Facing History, Facing Ourselves: Interracial Justice, Eric K. Yamamoto*


43. The Possessive Investment in Whitness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics, George Lipsitz

44. Strangers Among Us: How Latino Immigration Is Transforming America, Robert Suro

Personal Account: Just Like My Mama Said, Anthony McNeill

45. Sex, Race, and Ethnic Inequality in United States Work Places, Barbara F. Reskin and Irene Padavic*


46. The Health of Black Folk: Disease, Class, and Ideology in Science, Nancy Kreiger and Mary Bassett

47. Media Science and Sexual Ideology: The Promotion of Sexual Stability, Gilbert Zicklin

Personal Account: You Can't Forget Humiliation, Amy L. Helm

48. Disability Definitions: The Politics of Meaning, Michael Oliver

Personal Account: Seeing Race, Seeing Disability, R.B.

Popular Culture

49. Orientals, Robert E. Lee*

50. Women-Becoming-Men: Voices of Kickbutt Culture, Benjamin Demott*

Personal Account: Just Something You Did as a Man, Francisco Hernandez

51. Toward a Poetics of the Disabled Body, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson*

52. Both Sides Come Out Fighting: The Argument Culture and the Press, Deborah Tannen*

53. What Americans Don't Know About Indians, Jerry Mander

Personal Account: "Basketball," Andrea M. Busch


54. Language Policy and Identity Politics, Ronald Schmidt Sr. *

55. Racism in the English Language, Robert B. Moore

56. Gender Stereotyping in the English Language, Laurel Richardson

Personal Account: Becoming a Minority, Elizabeth Lukos

57. To Be and Be Seen: The Politics of Reality, Marilyn Fry

* Indicates new reading

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