Anything but racism: How sociologists limit the significance of racism

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Gianpaolo Baiocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The academic declining significance of race did not begin with William Julius Wilson's work in the late 1970s. In this paper, we take a broad look at the methods mainstream sociologists have used to validate Whites' racial common sense about racial matters in the post-civil rights era. Our general goal is to succinctly examine the major tactics sociologists have used to minimize the significance of racism in explaining minorities' plight. Specifically, we survey how (1) most work on racial attitudes creates a mythical view on Whites' racial attitudes, (2) the various demographic indices used to asses post-civil rights' racial matters miss how race affects minorities today, (3) perspectives on the culture of minorities are based on ethnocentric perspectives that tend to hide the centrality of racially based networks, and (4) the way most sociologists report their results distorts the significance of racial stratification. We conclude by suggesting that work on racial matters will need to be revamped if it is going to have any practical use for those at the "bottom of the well."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-131
Number of pages15
JournalRace and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Critical sociology
  • History of sociology
  • Methodology
  • Post-civil rights
  • Racial attitude
  • Racial common sense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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