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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Class is an underdeveloped concept in both formal and informal U.S. political discourse. There is little historical or sustained popular discourse on elites, workers, the bourgeoisie, or the unemployed. Nonetheless, class is still a crucial axis upon which people organize themselves politically and through which political messages are pitched. This chapter offers a definition of class as that system of stratification that is rooted in economic productivity, resources, or capacities. It then lays out the role of class in racial and ethnic politics by focusing on cross-class political cleavages and unity within the African-American community. I develop the concept of black middlemen and middlewomen who act as brokers of political, economic, and symbolic resources. Such brokerage can alternately result in collective empowerment or internal class domination. I conclude by adding gender to the discussion of class, race, and politics to highlight the importance of an intersectional framework.

Keywords: class, African-American politics, brokers, linked fate, black middle class, intersectionality

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