With race as a central theme, this book presents racial stratification as the underlying system which accounts for the difference in outcomes of Whites and Blacks in the labour market. Critical race theory (CRT) is employed to discuss the operation, research, maintenance and impact of racial stratification. The power of this book is the innovative use of a stratification framework to expose the pervasiveness of racial inequality in the labour market. It teaches readers how to use CRT to investigate the racial hierarchy and it provides a replicable framework to identify the racial order based on insight from the Irish case. There is a four-stage framework in the book which helps readers understand how migrants navigate the labour market from the point of migration to labour participation. The book also highlights minority agency and how migrants respond to their marginality. The examples of how social acceptance can be applied in managing difference in the workplace are an added bonus for those interested in diversity and inclusion. This book is the first of its kind in Ireland and across Europe to present inequality, racism and discrimination in the labour market from a racial stratification perspective. While this book is based on Irish data, the CRT theoretical approach, as well as its insight into migrant perspectives, poses a strong appeal to scholars of sociology, social justice, politics, intercultural communication and economics with interest in race and ethnicity, critical whiteness and migration. It is a timely contribution to CRT which offers scholars a method to conduct empirical study of racial stratification across different countries bypassing the over-reliance on secondary data. It will also appeal to countries and scholars examining causal racism and how it shapes racial inequality.
In order to introduce a CRT perspective to how we look at and talk about racism in Ireland, this chapter examines the symbolic use of colour in emphasising the perceived difference of racialised Irish people in their diaspora settings. It also discusses how whiteness has historically been mobilised to centralise Irish interests both at home and abroad, altering their positioning from colonised to coloniser. The cartography of the top tiers of the Irish labour market presents us with a false picture of a monocultural Ireland. This is in contradiction to census data which demonstrate the presence of newcomers within its borders, including Ireland’s ethnic minorities – the Irish Travellers. A key argument in the chapter is that rather than racism between White bodies invalidating skin colour as a locus of understanding racism, deviation from Eurocentric norms was employed to darken actors and influence the symbolic colour of the perceived difference ascribed to racialised Irish people on both sides of the Atlantic. While Ireland has been a welcoming state, this chapter discusses inconsistencies through its relationship with the Irish Travellers – the Irish racial other – and Ireland’s relationship with its migrant population from the early 1900s to the present.
The unmarked marker in racialised hierarchical social systems
The chapter highlights the pernicious use of race as a means of categorisation to determine access to scarce and desired resources. The way whiteness selectively privileges groups is discussed. The chapter introduces readers to the everyday performance of white supremacy as the underlying structure of white privilege. In this regard, whiteness is counterposed as privilege against whiteness as dominance as the locus of understanding the effect of whiteness and the resulting marginalisation and subjugation of Blacks and non-Whites. The chapter ends by defining some key terms for understanding racial stratification.
Racial stratification as a ‘default’ starting position
Based on extensive empirical evidence from labour market outcomes of migrants in Ireland and analysis of semi-structured interviews, this chapter presents racial stratification as a ‘default’ starting position assigned to newcomers on arrival. It shows how the interaction of class and race produce a classed race to influence this default positioning of group members. The key features of racial stratification discussed within this chapter include its homogenising attributes, inter- and intra-group layering of group members, the available hierarchies and how migrants fit into them as members of racial groups. The chapter provides insight on how immigrants know and occupy their place on the racial strata. It concludes with a discussion of the implications of racial stratification on the socio-economic outcomes of Black and White workers and how it differs along colour lines.
How migrants change their place on the labour supply chain
How do migrants and people of migrant descent move between the different segments of the labour market? This is the main focus of chapter 6, which uses micro-level analyses of everyday experiences to reveal how migrants change their place on the labour supply chain. The chapter presents interest convergence, social capital and equal opportunity as three vehicles with which migrants negotiate their way through racially stratified societies. The way the labour market experiences of migrants align to any of these concepts has long-term implications for everyone, including the creation of racialised ghettos and tripartite segmentation in the labour market. Intersecting vulnerabilities including gender and age that foster (inter-)intra-group layering also form part of the chapter.
By examining the Irish context, this chapter presents the favouritism continuum as the system through which racial inequalities, injustices and economic exploitations are proliferated in modern states. It outlines how the system operates through four interrelated structures. First is group favouritism, which ensures some groups are more favoured over others. The second is social acceptance, which determines where groups are placed on the continuum. Third is psychological implicit bias, which operates in racially stratified labour markets in conjunction with the continuum. Here you see how implicit bias produces explicit discrimination and how groups on lower racial strata try to circumvent its negative effect. The last structure comprises human contact – the connectors through which the racial stratification system operates. The chapter concludes by making three key arguments. First, that the favouritism continuum determines the outcome of actors by the position they occupy on the continuum. Secondly, that although racial stratification is restrictive, the outcome is fluid and changeable due to minority agency and individual mobility. Thirdly, the continuum is the machinery which maintains homogeneity in a heterogeneous labour market, thus (re)producing racial inequality.
There is a growing interest in Europe among researchers and race theorists in CRT as a methodological and analytical framework. While we all know on some level that society is unequal and hierarchical, what is unclear –which is the focus of this chapter – is who is at the top and who is at the bottom of the economic and racial ladder, and how are they connected? More importantly, how do we determine what group/s are at the top and what group/s are at the bottom? This chapter answers these questions through a step-by-step guide for researching racial stratification and the racial order. It also outlines some key considerations for researching the racial order drawing on insight from a racial stratification study of immigrants’ experiences in the Irish labour market. This chapter should be read with chapter 5, where a racial dichotomy of White over Black is unveiled in the Irish case.
The introduction sets up the Irish case as an empirical roadmap for race scholars across Europe to research and uncover the often unspoken and obfuscated aspects of race. It provides insight about the genealogy of the study on which the data in this book are based, with a detailed section on how the chapters are set and connected. Critical race theory and four of its tenets are discussed to ground readers in the theoretical understanding and race consciousness underpinning this book. A bonus mind-map is also provided in this chapter that captures the complexity of racial inequality and the myriad ways race is nuanced in labour market differentials as a roadmap for thinking through and making meaning of racial stratification. It provides a useful guide for structuring a non-racist examination of society.
Comparing the labour market outcomes of Spanish, Polish and Nigerian migrants
This comparative chapter, which is a deviation from traditional ways of presenting data on discrimination and labour market differentials, converts statistical data to show the ways groups are racially stratified in the labour market. It provides evidence of racial stratification in Ireland by analysing the disparity in outcomes among migrant groups and how it is divided along racial lines. It utilises three main sources of data: a selected employability programme (EP) with a database of 639 unique individuals (N = 639); the Irish 2011 and 2016 national census statistics and various OECD reports of migrants’ outcomes in the EU; and data from 32 semi-structured interviews with first-generation migrants of Spanish, Polish and Nigerian descent. The conflating of nationality of descent and race in the society, coupled with the separation of White workers to paid labour and Black workers to unpaid labour, is also discussed.
How migrants negotiate racially stratifying systems
Although racial stratification influences the outcomes of groups and their members, this chapter shows that it is not deterministic because individual migrants can and do express minority agency which influences labour mobility and intra-group hierarchy. This dialectical interaction between minorities and racially stratifying systems in their new country of settlement is the focus of this chapter. It presents a framework for interrogating the migration to labour market participation process within four strands that every migrating person goes through: expectation, experience, negotiation and identity reconstruction. It also presents the typologies identified from migrants’ trajectories that reveal five characteristic labour market experiences which in turn become solidified into reconstructed identities. Just as racial stratification has been argued to do in this book, its presence in the labour market participation process selectively metes out an endemic colour-coded migrant penalty which proliferates racial inequality.