Knowledge Construction and Racist ‘Science': Ideology, Political Economy, and Racial Inequality in the United States

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Abstract

The central thesis of this essay is that The Bell Curve must be situated in the context of right-wing ideology, a changing political economy, and intellectual racism. I contend that the interplay between those who focus their research on the so-called genetic inferiority of some groups and the resultant policy recommendations coming from such arguments must be viewed in the context of racial stratification, gender inequality, class exploitation, and public discourse on who is intellectually able and who is not. Moreover, I contend that changes in cultural meanings and practices about intelligence are heavily constructed through racist science. That is, The Bell Curve is not simply another social science research tract but reflects the politics and ideological imperatives of intellectual racism. Given this, I attempt to move the discussion from a mild intellectual exchange about the “issues” of The Bell Curve to situating this work in social, political, and economic context. The Bell Curve is the latest expression of deeply rooted notions of superiority and inferiority in Western discourses on intelligence. Thus I employ a critical sociology of knowledge framework with an eye on generating a progressive counterresponse to the public reemergence of the intellectual racism expressed in The Bell Curve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-73
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1995

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