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154 Working Paper

Bridging Boundaries: The Equalization Strategies of Stigmatized Ethno-racial Groups Compared


This article offers a framework for analyzing variations in how members of stigmatized ethnoracial groups establish equivalence with dominant groups through the comparative study of "equalization strategies." Whereas extant scholarship on anti-racism has focused on the struggle of social movements against institutional and political exclusion and social justice, we are concerned with the "everyday" anti-racist strategies deployed by members of stigmatized groups. We seek to compare how these strategies vary according to the permeability of inter-group boundaries. The first section defines our research problem and the second section locates our agenda within the current literature. The third section sketches an empirical context for the comparative analysis of equalization strategies across four cases: Palestinian citizens of Israel, Catholics in Northern Ireland, blacks in Brazil, and Québécois in Canada. Whereas the first two cases are examples of ethnic conflict where group boundaries are tightly policed, the second cases exemplify more permeable boundaries. We conclude by offering tentative hypotheses about the relationship between the permeability of inter-group boundaries and the salience and range of equalization strategies used by members of stigmatized ethno-racial groups to establish equivalence with their counterparts in dominant majority groups.