Black middle class Britannia

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.

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