This unique collection brings together selections from the work that has defined our understanding of racism. Every significant contribution to the analysis of racism over the past 50 years are comprised in this one book, including extracts from Myrdal's An American Dilemma, Cox's Marxist theory, Carmichael and Hamilton's introduction of the term ‘institutional racism’ and recent textual analyses. Ordered chronologically, so that the reader can work through the narrative of changes coherently, each contribution is introduced by the editors and the whole collection is bound together by introductory and concluding chapters. The result is an unparalleled teaching and study resource. No other book presents the highlights, range and complexity of the various attempts to unravel racism, in such a comprehensive and panoramic way.
Chapter 5: An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy
An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy
First published in 1944, An American Dilemma brought together the work of a multidisciplinary team of scholars under the leadership of Swedish scholar Gunnar Myrdal. While many of its conclusions now seem limited and outdated, the report presented a radical challenge to existing thought on the ‘Negro Problem’, which Myrdal effectively redefined in his title.
The book takes issue with existing theories on racism, most of which were informed by what Myrdal called a ‘fatalistic philosophy’. Racism should not be conceived as the product of historical inevitability or unchangeable mental attitudes. Even earlier sociological theories, in particular that of Robert E. Park, viewed racism as the product of a ...