Race and Social Problems

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 12–26 | Cite as

Racial Formation in Theory and Practice: The Case of Mexicans in the United States

  • Douglas S. MasseyEmail author


Mechanisms of social stratification require the categorical definition of an out-group to that can be excluded and exploited. Historically, in the United States, African Americans have been the subject of a systematic process of racial formation to define socially in this fashion. Beginning in the 1970s, however, and accelerating in the 1980s and 1990s, Mexicans were increasingly subject to processes of racialization that have rendered them more exploitable and excludable than ever before. Over the past decade, Mexican Americans moved steadily away from their middle position in the socioeconomic hierarchy and gravitated toward the bottom. This paper describes the basic mechanisms of stratification in the United States and how Mexicans have steadily been racialized to label them socially as a dehumanized and vulnerable out-group.


Race Mexicans Stereotype content Categorical Boundaries Discrimination 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Population ResearchPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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