cover of book

White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness
by Ruth Frankenberg
University of Minnesota Press, 1993
Paper: 978-0-8166-2258-0
Library of Congress Classification HQ1154.F683 1993
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.488034

"This book begins the innovative and necessary analysis of how whiteness--as a racial category, a 'standpoint' for thinking about race, a terrain of 'unmarked' cultural practices which include material and discursive dimensions, and a collective and individual identity--was socially constructed. Frankenberg's thesis is that race shapes white women's lives through a system of racial privilege, and analyzes racism and challenges to it in white women's experiences. Her analysis is smart, insightful, and convincing. This book is compelling, engagingly written, and should prove very useful in the classroom, as well as a model for further qualitative research for those interested in social stratification, multiculturalism, American society, or social change." --Contemporary Sociology

"Ruth Frankenberg's study of white women makes a major contribution to our understanding of the complex intertwining of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Drawing on recent writing which views 'race' as a fluid social, political, and historical construct, Frankenberg explores white women's lived experience of 'race,' and specifically 'whiteness.' White Women, Race Matters is an engaging, well-written text which should be invaluable for advanced undergraduate courses or graduate courses in race, women's studies, or qualitative methodology. Should be read by everyone interested in contemporary racial politics." --Race, Sex, and Class

"Although other scholars and journalists have lately focused on 'whiteness,' Frankenberg's project is unique because she sees white women's lives 'as the sites both for the reproduction of racism and for challenges to it.' White Woman, Race Matters provides a webbed explanation of the position of white women in American culture, rooted in the failings and blindness of the feminist movement around race." --Afterimage

"Frankenberg seeks a way out of the dilemma of seeing whites and non-whites as 'different' or as 'similar' under the skin, an approach that ignores the history of racism. Frankenberg's project is to reveal White constructions of race. She analyzes life history interviews with thirty White, California women to discern how each one's 'articulation of whiteness' results in seeing White beliefs and behavior as normative and 'American.' With few recommendations about how to change contemporary racial discourse, Frankenberg nevertheless enlarges our understanding of its persistent perniciousness." --American Studies International

"A valuable contribution to understanding the effect of race and racism in white women's lives." --Race Traitor

"She wants to understand how racial identity is socially constructed for white Americans, and how their understanding of that identity is both a given and changeable. This reflects her desire to help construct a feminism that will be effectively antiracist. Through her interviews with and analysis of white woman who are widely diverse in age, class, family situation, sexual orientation, political values and experiences, Frankenberg's study forms a complex treatment of a subject neglected by social scientists, and only recently addressed by white novelists, poets, and cultural critics. The epilogue, 'Racism, Antiracism, and the Meaning of Whiteness', is the most compressed, intense, and useful discussion of race that I have seen written by a white woman." --Canadian Review of American Studies

"Frankenberg's books offers its readers not only definitions of whiteness, but unceasingly intelligent and thought-provoking analyses of how those definitions are derived, maintained and articulated." --Minnesota Review

"This book makes a major contribution to the scholarship on race, class, and gender. Frankenberg's exploration of the ways whiteness is lived, experienced and discussed confirms the importance of race in U.S. society and demonstrates how all kinds of social relations, even those that appear neutral, are, in fact, racialized." --Bonnie Thornton Dill, University of Maryland

Winner of a 1995 Jessie Bernard Book Award

Named an Outstanding Book by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights
Nearby on shelf for The Family. Marriage. Women / Women. Feminism: