Friday, December 20, 2002

Glenn Loury's Du Bois Lectures

For anyone interested in Race in the United States, and in social division more generally, Glenn Loury's recent book The Anatomy of Racial Inequality is essential reading. The book is based on his Du Bois Lectures, delivered in 2000 at Harvard, and goes well beyond his earlier work on statistical discrimination and self-fulfilling negative stereotypes. He does this by stepping across traditional disciplinary boundaries and addressing issues such as the salience of racial markers and the persistence of racal stigma. Unlike discrimination, which "is about how people are treated", stigma "is about who, at the deepest cognitive level, they are understood to be". Loury argues that racial egalitarianism is a legitimate goal of public policy in the historical context of the United States, and that this objective may "properly" be pursued by using methods such as affirmative action, which violate the procedural principle of race-blindness. But this book is about much more than affirmative action, and breaks new ground in the national dialogue on race.