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Identities, repertoires, cultural consumption

This book analyses how racism and anti-racism influence Black British middle-class cultural consumption. In doing so, this book challenges the dominant understanding of British middle-class identity and culture as being ‘beyond race’.

Paying attention to the relationship between cultural capital and cultural repertoires, this book puts forward the idea that there are three black middle-class identity modes: strategic assimilation, class-minded, and ethnoracial autonomous. People towards each of these identity modes use specific cultural repertoires to organise their cultural consumption. Those towards strategic assimilation draw on repertoires of code-switching and cultural equity, consuming traditional middle-class culture to maintain an equality with the White middle class in levels of cultural capital. Ethnoracial autonomous individuals draw on repertoires of browning and Afro-centrism, removing themselves from traditional middle-class cultural pursuits they decode as ‘Eurocentric’, while showing a preference for cultural forms that uplift Black diasporic histories and cultures. Lastly, those towards the class-minded identity mode draw on repertoires of post-racialism and de-racialisation. Such individuals polarise between ‘Black’ and middle-class cultural forms, display an unequivocal preference for the latter, and lambast other Black people who avoid middle-class culture as being culturally myopic or culturally uncultivated.

This book will appeal to sociology students, researchers, and academics working on race and class, critical race theory, and cultural sociology, among other social science disciplines.

Meghji Ali

2 Towards a triangle of Black middle-class identity S ociologists are often committed to the view that identity is ‘restless, fickle and irresolute’.1 Contrastingly, the very reason that ‘race’ (and particularly ‘Blackness’) was brought into existence was to deny human difference to certain people. 2 As critical social scientists, therefore, we must walk a tightrope between appreciating that individuals are individuals while also appreciating that systems of domination often aim to homogenise people into restrictive categories. One way that sociologists

in Black middle class Britannia
A New Spatiotemporal Logic in James Baldwin’s The Evidence of Things Not Seen
Özge Özbek Akıman

This article examines James Baldwin’s late text The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985) as one of his substantial attempts at “forging a new language,” which he tentatively mentions in his late essays and interviews. As an unpopular and difficult text in Baldwin’s oeuvre, Evidence carries the imprint of a new economy of time, casting the past into the present, and a new economy of space, navigating across other geographies in appraising the serial killings of children in one of Atlanta’s poorest Black neighborhoods. This article suggests that a new economy of time emerges earlier in No Name in the Street (1972), as a result of Baldwin’s self-imposed exile in Europe. The article then analyzes his spatiotemporal logic in the specifics of Evidence with reference to a Black middle class, urbanization, the ghetto, gentrification, and other colonized spaces.

James Baldwin Review
Crafting a study on Britain’s Black middle class
Meghji Ali

1 Introduction – Taking off the colourblind goggles: crafting a study on Britain’s Black middle class I n the summer of 2017, I was involved in a back-and-forth email conversation with someone whom I had been trying to interview for seven months. I received an email late at night, inviting me to an event run by the Powerlist Foundation, a foundation composed of the most ‘powerful’ Black Britons. It read Hi Ali, I have been really poor with communication and I am so sorry. We begin our Annual Summer Leadership Programme, in partnership with BT, tomorrow and I

in Black middle class Britannia
Meghji Ali

6 Race, class, and culture in the British racialised social system O ne text I often turn to in my sociological writing is Becker’s Tricks of the Trade.1 As Becker claims, one question that sociologists must continually ask themselves is simply ‘So what?’2 I use this chapter to address this ‘so what?’ question – or as Du Bois puts it, ‘the meaning of all this’ question 3 – looking both backwards and forwards. I look backwards by reviewing how the data presented in this book makes contributions towards the micro field of Black middle-class studies, as well as to

in Black middle class Britannia
Double consciousness, Black Britishness, and cultural consumption
Meghji Ali

, I was moving through a space that was rich with Black British culture and history. Indeed, the theme of space has been running through this book so far. I considered how the symbolic boundaries of middle classness often lead to the construction of white middle-class physical spaces, also showing how members of the Black middle class create their own physical cultural spaces as a means of solidarity and resistance. In this respect, my work implicitly connects with the longstanding interest social theorists have had in space and place. Looking back at this

in Black middle class Britannia
Meghji Ali

into Blackness and middle-class culture, and we carried on talking. Sandra commented that ‘This happens all the time’, where ‘a white person wants to take away from the achievements of Black people’. Sandra further explained that the questioning lady was overplaying the role of white people in anti-racist Black 77 Black middle-class Britannia struggle, whereas exhibitions like this are supposed to provide more accurate ‘representations of Black struggle and progress’. This ethnographic episode feeds into two dimensions explored in this chapter. First, Sandra claims

in Black middle class Britannia
Abstract only
Consuming traditional middle-class culture
Meghji Ali

turns attention towards such traditional middle-class 53 Black middle-class Britannia cultural spaces, and the ways that these spaces are made into ‘white spaces’ and maintain white middle-class supremacy. Nevertheless, unlike the prior literature, I go beyond a simple diagnosis of traditional middle-class culture as existing within the ‘white space’. Rather, I analyse how those towards the ethnoracial autonomous, strategic assimilation, and class-minded identity modes all draw on distinct cultural repertoires to form different courses of action with regard to

in Black middle class Britannia
Ben Highmore

inhabited as an exclusively white culture? And how does the racial framing of taste relate to the question of how class and taste are linked? Is the term ‘class’, within the context of British postwar history, something that is experienced as a predominantly white phenomenon and experience? In a recent study of British black middle-class experience, Ali Meghji finds a degree of resistance to the very idea that middle-class identity and black identity can be articulated together. For one of his interviewees – a doctor living and

in Lifestyle revolution
The making of segregated dancing worlds in South Africa, 1910–39
Klaus Nathaus
James Nott

broadcasting. A third part takes the parallel world of social dancing in which members of a black middle class participated into view. Society balls, ‘improper’ romps and the transformation of ‘crazes’ into ‘respectable’ steps With the interactions between the colonists and local indigenous inhabitants, and the import of slaves and constant influx of settlers, South Africa was a diverse and socially segregated space. Settlers and travellers brought European social dances to the colony from as early as

in Worlds of social dancing