Rationalising Racial Inequality: Ideology, Hegemony and Post-Racialism among the Black and South Asian Middle-Classes

30 Nov 2017

Drawing upon 38 qualitative interviews with Black and South Asian middle-class individuals we theorise post-racialism as a hegemonic ideology. While research tends to focus on how racialised people experience racial inequality, some of our participants rationalised such inequality through a post-racial understanding. This post-racial understanding involves commitments to racial progress and transcendence, the view that racism is no longer a societal issue; race-neutral universalism, the belief that we live in a colourblind meritocracy; and a moral equivalence between anti-racism and anti-racialism, allowing for forms of ‘cultural’ racial prejudice. We examine how these components of post-racialism travel from the political macro-ideological level, to the micro-phenomenological level. Through this analysis we argue that these post-racial rationalisations are not the result of false consciousness, but reflect how post-racialism, as a hegemonic ideology, can manifest itself as common-sense and consistent with particular individuals’ histories of mobility and success.