SOCI 6180 Tulane University H

Students should choose one of the topics discussed in class and (a) begin with an introduction clearly describing the topic to be analyzed, (b) provide a summary of the parts or sub-headings of the paper, and (c) describe sources of information to be used (i.e., what books and journal articles, online data sources (Pew, GSS, census, etc.). Estimated length: 5-7 pages double-spaced. This is completed. Need help bringing the 5 pages I have to 10. This is the development and completion of the 5 pages In addition to filling out the parts or sub-headings projected in the other 5 pgs the final paper should have a conclusion that summarizes the paper and makes generalizations about the aspect of stratification examined in the paper.

here is the work that i already have

Human Capital: Capitalism and Stratification

The question of inequality, how to recognize it, and how to eradicate it has long been a discussion of scholars, politicians, and activists. And as society seemingly becomes increasingly more “progressive,” it also becomes clear that the reason behind such inequality is not understood. If there is a moral or political inequality, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau suggests, upon what is this inequality predicated? This essay will explore stratification’s role in capitalistic societies specifically through the lens of race and racism, challenge the notion of identity, and discuss the role of whiteness in the preservation of white supremacy. It will begin with defining stratification and the formation of identity. Next, it will discuss the establishment of the United States and its never-ending war against Black Americans. It will end with a discussion of whiteness and the problems with class reductionism.

Stratification and Identity

In Discourse on Inequality, Rousseau discusses two types of inequality: the first is a natural inequality, the physical differences between human bodies. It is the type of inequality that humans cannot control. The other type of inequality is moral or ethical — it is created by man, supported by man, and upheld by man to reinforce wealth and power (Rousseau, 1999). As a result, identities are constructed as a result of this inequality, and each person who participates in a civil society involuntarily participates in a classification process that determines their social standing. In these civil societies, only a few people have power, and they wield this power to create identity markers that maximize this power. This phenomenon is called stratification. As defined by Melvin Tumin, “Social stratification systems function to provide the elite with the political power necessary to procure acceptance and dominance of an ideology which rationalizes the status quo, whatever it may be, as ‘logical,’ ‘natural’ and ‘morally right’” (Tumin, 1953). This analysis has broad implications for most, if not all, ways in which humans identify themselves. Race, class, gender, sexuality — all of these identities exist as a response to social constructionism that maintains the social order. This paper, however, will focus exclusively on race and racism, how the two concepts became an instrument of capitalism, and how it perseveres today.

Before explaining the significance of race, it is important to note that race is not separate from other social identities. Kimberle Crenshaw’s idea of intersectionality explores this fact — identities overlap and intersect to cause multiple forms of discrimination and oppression. But it is not the identities themselves that cause the oppression, it is multiple systems of power that combine to create and marginalize these identities (Crenshaw, 1989). While race is a great example to study the formation of social identity, reducing inequality to one specific specification ignores how oppression targets multiple groups. As Crenshaw notes:

Intersectionality is an analytic sensibility, a way of thinking about identity and its relationship to power. Originally articulated on behalf of black women, the term brought to light the invisibility of many constituents within groups that claim them as members but often fail to represent them.

The Formation of a New Society

In Between the World and Me, Tahnesi Coates writes “Race is the child of racism, not the father” (2015). Here, he acknowledges the relationship between constructed identity and power. Racism and white supremacy are not individual issues, as most neoliberal interpretations of race would argue. They are systems — systems not only supported by current legislation but ingrained in the fabric of society. The need to classify humans according to skin color is directly related to the maximization of profits and the organization of labor.

As demand for goods increased, the demand for labor also increased in the European continent. While Europeans continued to colonize lands in the Global South, they needed labor. The Portuguese were the first to bring enslaved Africans to the Americas for labor, but by the middle of the 18th century, chattel slavery had become a primary method of labor and capital. This meant that all Africans brought to the Americas were considered property — they were not human and they had no rights (Asante, 2007). So, to discuss the formation of the United States and its purpose, it is inarguable that Black people were (and still are) a colonized group. And, if capitalism, according to Marx, is an economic system in which the mode of production based on private ownership of the means of production, then enslaved Africans are capital.

As a result, all structures and institutions that exist within the United States are designed to maintain discrimination against Black people and uphold capitalism. Racism and capitalism are inextricably linked. While, yes, white working-class people are disadvantaged from the capitalist economic system, it should be understood that these disadvantages are based on anti-blackness. Bledsoe and Wright (2018) write:

Nonetheless, we must push further to explicate the ways in which capitalism is actually dependent on anti-Blackness to realize itself, instead of understanding anti-Black racism as a Bledsoe and Wright 11 secondary effect of the economy or a phenomenon that emerges periodically. That is to say, reflections on the interlinked nature of race and capitalism must move beyond an assumption of economic causality and grapple with the ways in which anti-Blackness is actually an always-present precondition for capital accumulation.

Plus, it is important to note that as non-Black immigrants arrived in the United States, they assimilated into whiteness, involuntarily or not. The social stratification of people based on race is linked to the stratification of people based on class. Black people have always been at the very bottom. But whiteness, itself, is predicated upon Blackness — it does not exist without it. As immigrants assimilated into whiteness, they deny their own cultures to attain social capital.

Class reductionism

Thus far, this paper has discussed the formation of class in terms of Black people’s position, asserting that capitalism is inherently anti-Black. Capitalism relies on racism to prosper, but many scholars agree that the eradication of the economic system promises liberation for Black people. Class reductionism, although widely critiqued and debated, refers to the idea that all of the world’s problems are a result of class struggles. It is mostly wielded by scholars who seek to recognize that because racism is one of many tools capitalism employs, the separation of the Black and white-working class can be solved by a complete overhaul in the economic system (Halstead, 2020).

There are several issues with this: first, class reductionism ignores the power of whiteness. Whiteness is social capital — it allows for resources unattainable by those who are not white and who do not ascribe to whiteness. It is involuntary. Anti-racist action does not exist from anti-capitalist action, and vice versa. Second, racism exists within the working class. Jonathan Metzl explores this in his book Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland. Poor white Americans often vote in favor of policies that actively harm them to preserve their whiteness. Those who are below the poverty line themselves invoke racial stereotypes to defend their voting choices, ignoring their own disenfranchisement (2019). Thus, it is important to recognize why class cannot be the singular mode of combating inequality. As Halstead writes:

Class reductionism arises out of a legitimate critique of neoliberal identity politics and race reductionism, but it goes too far when it claims that race is not “real” or that racism can be overcome through “class-wide” (i.e., race-neutral) demands. Anti-capitalism isn’t really anti-capitalist unless it recognizes that capital exploits workers differently and that people of color are not only exploited, they are oppressed… I would counter that the real class struggle must be color-full.


This paper analyzes social stratification through capitalism’s use of racism and white supremacy to maintain a labor force. While class structure is an important facet of inequality, racism and other modes of oppression cannot and should not be overlooked.

Works Cited

Bledsoe, A., & Wright, W. J. (2018). The anti-blackness of global capital. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 37(1), 8-26. doi:10.1177/0263775818805102

Halstead, J. (2021, February 22). Class reductionism and white identity politics in A Post-trump america. Retrieved March 10, 2021, from…

Illing, S. (2019, March 19). How the politics of racial resentment is killing white people. Retrieved March 10, 2021, from…

Marx, K., & Engels, F. (2020). The Communist manifesto. Singapore: Origami Books.

Rousseau, J., Cranston, M. W., & Mill, J. S. (1999). A discourse on inequality. China Social Sciences Publishing House.

Tumin, M. M. (1953). Some principles of stratification: A critical analysis. American Sociological Review, 18(4), 387. doi:10.2307/2087551

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