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Sex Roles

, Volume 59, Issue 5–6, pp 443–453 | Cite as

Coalitions as a Model for Intersectionality: From Practice to Theory

  • Elizabeth R. ColeEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

This conceptual paper uses the concept of coalition to theorize an alternative to categorical approaches to intersectionality based on review of an archive of oral history interviews with feminist activists who engage in coalitional work. Two complementary themes were identified: the challenge of defining similarity in order to draw members of diverse groups together, and the need to address power differentials in order to maintain a working alliance. Activists’ narratives suggest intersectionality is not only a tool for understanding difference, but also a way to illuminate less obvious similarities. This shift requires that we think about social categories in terms of stratification brought about through practices of individuals, institutions and cultures rather than only as characteristics of individuals. Implications of these themes for research practices are discussed.

Keywords

Intersectionality Coalitions Women of color Political activism Theory 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Women’s Studies and PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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