Intersectional Approaches to Society and Law

Intersectional theory is a relatively new approach to studying and understanding social stratification. It is most often employed to analyze race along with other social positions, such as gender, class, and sexuality. In criminology, intersectional analysis has primarily been used to address the experiences of black women and girls in urban settings. However, more recent studies have applied intersectionality to other groups, such as rural women as both victims and perpetrators of crime (Carrington et al. 2014; DeKeseredy et al. 2016). In her 2015 book, Intersectionality and Criminology: Disrupting and Revolutionizing Studies of Crime, Hillary Potter notes that whiteness is rarely discussed in studies of crime. She states, “White is a race.

Consequently, criminologists should, at least, contemplate how being white may influence individuals’ experiences compared with those of other races” (2015:150).

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Intersectionality recognizes that people are situated in differing locations within the social structural hierarchy that attach to disadvantages and advantages. Gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, sexuality, and disability affect one’s location in the social structure, social identity, and access to power. “Intersectionality is strongly tied to real-world activism” (Potter 2013:314).

 

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