Race, Ethnicity and Social Theory  book cover
1st Edition

Race, Ethnicity and Social Theory

ISBN 9781857286335
Published July 1, 2022 by Routledge
314 Pages

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Book Description

Race, Ethnicity and Social Theory provides a critical analysis of the main areas of scholarly research and debate about racial and ethnic relations over the past few decades. The book covers substantive areas of scholarly debate in this fast-changing field, including race and social relations, identities and the construction of the racial other, feminism and race, the relationship between race and nationalism, antisemitism, the evolution of new forms of racism, race and political representation and, more generally, the changing debates about race and ethnicity in our global environment.

The book argues that there is a need for more dialogue across national and conceptual boundaries about how to develop the theoretical tools needed to understand both the historical roots of contemporary forms of racialised social and political relations and the contemporary forms through which race is made and re-made. A key argument that runs through the book is the need to develop conceptual frameworks that can help us to make sense of the changing forms of racial and ethnic relations in contemporary societies. This means developing more dialogue across national research cultures as well as empirical research that seeks to engage with the key issues raised by contemporary theoretical debates.

The book will be of interest to both students wanting to develop a deeper understanding of this area of scholarship and to researchers of race, ethnicity and migration working in various national and disciplinary environments.

Table of Contents



Origins and trajectories

Political and policy context

Situating this book

Race relations and social theory

Structuring the argument


1 Theoretical frameworks and perspectives

Concepts and analytical frames

Sociologies of race in Britain

Sociological perspectives in America

Critical and interdisciplinary theories

Globalisation of scholarship and research

Postcolonial and decolonial perspectives on race

Rethinking the boundaries of race and ethnicity


2 Race and social relations

Race, social relations, and class

Genesis and development

From race to class, and back again

Reconceptualising racism and social relations

Racism and society

Locating race and ethnicity in the social world


3 Constructing identities and the racial other

Identities, boundaries, and racialisation

Culture, identity, race

Whiteness and the racial other

Intersectional approaches to race and ethnicity

Living with difference


4 Reframing feminism, rethinking race

Race and feminist theorising

Limitations of feminist theories and race

Whiteness and feminist theorising

Black feminist perspectives

Intersectionality, culture, and racial politics

Minority women, mobilisation, resistance

Reframing the boundaries of feminism


5 Nations, cultures, identities

Nationalism, race, and nation

Constructing nations through race

Race, nation, and gender

Englishness, Britishness, and beyond

Remaking the nation after colonialism

Race, culture, and national identity

Nationalism and race in the global environment


6 Antisemitism, racism, and modernity

Background and context

Changing perspectives

Historical forms of antisemitism

Sociology and antisemitism

Antisemitism and the politics of racism

Political and cultural expressions


7 New racisms or beyond race?

What kind of racism?

From racism to racisms

Multiculturalism, diversity, and post-race

New racial orders

Political languages and race

Culture, race, and whiteness

Racism, populism, and post-race


8 Race, representation, and difference

Political inclusion and exclusion

Race, ethnicity, and politics

Representation, pluralism, and mobilisation

Migrants, mobilisation, and citizenship

Political identities and social movements

Looking to the future


9 Racism and ethnicity in a changing world

Race making in the present

Reframing the field of study

Emerging issues and questions

Racism and migration

Race and global inequalities

Comparative research cultures

Rethinking research priorities




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John Solomos is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK. He has researched and written widely on the history and contemporary forms of race and ethnic relations in Britain, theories of race and racism, the politics of race, equal opportunity policies, multiculturalism and social policy, race and football, and racist movements and ideas. His most recent books are Race and Racism in Britain (Fourth Edition, Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) and The Unfinished Politics of Race: Histories of Political Participation, Migration and Multiculturalism (Cambridge University Press, 2022). His most recent edited books are Race and Ethnicity in Pandemic Times (Routledge, 2022), An Introduction to Sociology (SAGE, 2022), Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader (Third Edition, Routledge, 2022), and Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Racisms (Routledge, 2020). He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Ethnic and Racial Studies journal, co-editor of the Racism, Resistance and Social Change book series (Manchester University Press), and General Editor of the online The Routledge Encyclopaedia of Race and Racism series.


‘John Solomos is the too-often unacknowledged uncle of UK race and ethnic studies. This work brings together insights from his field-making career, reflecting his often stated belief that a commitment to teaching is central to the responsibilities of a serious scholar. It is destined to become a core work in the field, encouraging new generations of antiracist scholars to learn to think with the seriousness and generosity of the author’.

Gargi Bhattacharyya, Professor of Sociology, University of East London, UK

Race, Ethnicity and Social Theory is a politically astute, empirically grounded, conceptually sophisticated and open-ended contribution to our understanding of race and ethnicity at a moment when it is most needed. As popular movements and a new generation of activists embrace black lives matter, as statues of slavers and colonists are toppled, as universities grapple with what decolonising the curriculum might mean, and the racial inequalities of everyday life are as entrenched as ever, there couldn’t be a better moment than now to take stock of how we got to where we are today and how we might move forward into a more racially just future. This is simply a superb book. It provides a rigorous, intelligent and accessible pathway through the last half a century of race thinking, debate, politics and the racialisation of social relationships, in the UK and beyond. Most importantly, it provides an invaluable resource with which to develop intelligent public conversations about race’.

Caroline Knowles, Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

‘Nobody in the world but John Solomos could write such a great book, based on empirical research, theoretical clarity, a solid experience of teaching and an unbelievable knowledge of both academic production and controversies, and the public debates on racism and antisemitism. In a time when huge transformations affect these key issues, which are so central in the political and social life, John Solomos brings to bear a more accurate, precise, and up-to-date analysis. This book will be a classic point of reference for years to come’.

Michel Wieviorka, Professor of Sociology, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, France