Intersectionality is a black feminist theory of power that recognizes how multiple systems of oppression, including racism, patriarchy, capitalism, interact to disseminate disadvantage to and institutionally stratify different groups. Born out of black women’s theorizations of their experiences of racism, sexism, and economic disadvantage from enslavement to Jim Crow to the post-civil rights era, the theory accounts for how systems of oppression reinforce each other, and how their power must be understood not as individually constituted but rather as co-created in concert with each other. Sociologists of gender adopted and adapted intersectionality widely in the 1990s, using the theoretical lens to account for their own standpoint and positionality in the research process as well as to expand their analyses to include the experiences of people who were disadvantaged across multiple systems of oppression. The popularity and utility of intersectionality as a theory, both within sociology and beyond, has in some ways obscured its emphasis on interlocking systems of structural power and domination. Yet, gender theorists are positively positioned to return power to the center of analyses of inequality and to cover new substantive ground in research on oppression.
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Robinson, Z.F. (2018). Intersectionality and Gender Theory. In: Risman, B., Froyum, C., Scarborough, W. (eds) Handbook of the Sociology of Gender. Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-76333-0_5
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