Skip to main content

When Multiplication Doesn't Equal Quick Addition: Examining Intersectionality as a Research Paradigm

  • Ange-Marie Hancock (a1)

In the past twenty years, intersectionality has emerged as a compelling response to arguments on behalf of identity-based politics across the discipline. It has done so by drawing attention to the simultaneous and interacting effects of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and national origin as categories of difference. Intersectional arguments and research findings have had varying levels of impact in feminist theory, social movements, international human rights, public policy, and electoral behavior research within political science and across the disciplines of sociology, critical legal studies, and history. Yet consideration of intersectionality as a research paradigm has yet to gain a wide foothold in political science. This article closely reads research on race and gender across subfields of political science to present a coherent set of empirical research standards for intersectionality.Ange-Marie Hancock is Assistant Professor of Political Science & African American Studies at Yale University ( She is the author of The Politics of Disgust: The Public Identity of the “Welfare Queen.” The author thanks Christian Davenport, Gary Goertz, Errol Henderson, Gerald Jaynes, Eric Juenke, Alondra Nelson, Valerie Purdie-Vaughn, Mark Sawyer, James Scott, Evelyn Simien, Lester Spence, Dara Strolovitch, and the anonymous reviewers of Perspectives on Politics for their comments on previous versions of this paper, which substantially improved the manuscript. She is currently a visiting faculty fellow at the Research Institute for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University.

Hide All


Appiah, Kwame Anthony, and Amy Gutmann. 1996. Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Baumgartner, Frank, and Bryan Jones. 1993. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bell, Derrick. 2004. Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bobo, Lawrence, and Frank Gilliam. 1990. Race, sociopolitical participation and Black empowerment. American Political Science Review 84 (2): 37793.
Bowen, William, and Derek Bok. 1998. The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Calhoun, Craig. 1995. Critical Social Theory: Culture, History and the Challenge of Difference. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Carter, Prudence, Sherrill Sellers, and Catherine Squires. 2002. Reflections on race/ethnicity, class and gender inclusive research. African American Research Perspectives 8 (1): 11124.
Clawson, Rosalee A., and John A. Clark. 2003. “The Attitudinal structure of African American women party activists: The Impact of race, gender, and religion.” Political Research Quarterly 56 (2): 21121.
Clawson, Rosalee, and Rakuya Trice. 2000. Poverty as we know it: Media portrayals of the poor. Public Opinion Quarterly 64 (1): 5364.
Cockburn, Cynthia. 1998. The Space Between Us: Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict. New York: Zed Books.
Cohen, Cathy J. 1999. The Boundaries of Blackness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cole, E.R., and Abigail Stewart. 2001. Invidious comparisons: Imagining a psychology of race and gender beyond differences. Political Psychology 22 (2): 293308.
Collins, Patricia Hill. 1998. It's all in the family: Intersections of gender, race and nation. Hypatia 13: 6282.
Collins, Patricia Hill. 2000. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment. New York: Routledge.
Crenshaw, Kimberle Williams. 1991. Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. In Feminist Legal Theory: Readings in Law and Gender, eds. Katherine Bartlett and Rose Kennedy. San Francisco: Westview Press.
Crenshaw, Kimberle Williams. 1995. Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics and violence against women of color. In Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement, eds. Kimberle Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas. New York: New Press.
Crenshaw, Kimberle Williams. 2002. “The First Decade: Critical Reflections, or ‘A Foot in the Closing Door.’ ” UCLA Law Review 49 (5): 134372.
Cruz, Jose. 1998. Identity and Power: Puerto Rican Politics and the Challenge of Ethnicity. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Darder, Antonia, and Rodolfo Torres. 2004. After Race: Racism after Multiculturalism. New York: New York University Press.
Dawson, Michael. 1994. Behind the Mule: Race and Class in African-American Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
El Saadawi, Nawal. 1981. The Hidden Face of Eve. London: Zed Press.
El Saadawi, Nawal. 1988. Growing up female in Egypt. In Women and Family in the Middle East: New Voices of Change. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Fraser, Nancy. 1989. Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Gamson, Joshua. 1996. Must identity movements self-destruct? A queer dilemma. In Queer Theory/Sociology, ed. Steven Seidman. Cambridge: Blackwell.
Gay, Claudine, and Katherine Tate. 1998. Doubly bound: The impact of gender and race on the politics of Black women. Political Psychology 19 (1): 16984.
Giddings, Paula. 1984. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. New York: Bantam Books.
Gilens, Martin. 2000. Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Goldman, Emma. 1970 [1931]. Living My Life: In Two Volumes. New York: Dover Publications.
Gratz v. Bollinger. 2003. 539 US 244.
Grutter v. Bollinger. 2003. 539 US 982.
Guba, Egon, and Yvonne Lincoln. 1994. Grounded Theory. In Handbook of Qualitative Research, ed. Yvonne Lincoln and Norman Denzin. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Guinier, Lani. 1994. The Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy. New York: Free Press.
Hancock, Ange-Marie. 2003. Contemporary welfare reform and the public identity of the “welfare queen.” Race, Gender and Class 10 (1): 3159.
Hancock, Ange-Marie. 2004. The Politics of Disgust: The Public Identity of the “Welfare Queen.” New York: New York University Press.
Hancock, Ange-Marie. 2005. Overcoming willful blindness: Building egalitarian multicultural women's coalitions. In Female Circumcision and the Politics of Knowledge: African Women in Imperialist Discourses, ed. Obioma Nnaemeka. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Hancock, Ange-Marie, and Karen Bower, eds. 2003. Symposium: Ubuntu—Humane solutions and success stories from Africa. Peace Review 15 (3): 251–317; 357–68.
Harris, Angela P. 1994. Foreword: The jurisprudence of Reconstruction. California Law Review 82 (4): 74185.
Harris, Cheryl I. 1993. Whiteness as Property. Harvard Law Review 106 (8): 170991.
Hawkesworth, Mary. 2003. Congressional Enactments of Race-Gender: Toward a Theory of Race-Gendered Institutions. American Political Science Review 97 (4): 52950.
Helms, Janet. 1995. An update of Helms' white and people of color racial identity models. In Handbook of Multicultural Counseling, ed. J.G. Ponterotto, J.M. Casas, L.A. Suzuki, and C.M. Alexander. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Holden, Matthew. 1973. The Divisible Republic. New York: Abelard-Schuman.
Hooks, Bell. 1989. Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black. Boston: South End Press.
Jacobs, Susie; Ruth Jacobson, and Jennifer Marchbank, eds. 2000. States of Conflict: Gender, Violence and Resistance. New York: Zed Books.
Juenke, Eric Gonzalez. 2005. “Macro-economic Labor Conditions and Latino Students: How Unemployment Changes Affect Dropout Rates.” Policy paper prepared for the CANTU Foundation.
Jung, Courtney. 2003. The politics of indigenous identity: Neoliberalism, cultural rights, and the Mexican Zapatistas. Social Research 70 (2): 43361.
Kelley, Robin D.G. 2002. Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination. New York: Beacon Press.
Kinder, Donald R., and Lynn M. Sanders. 1996. Divided by Color: Racial Politics and Democratic Ideals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
King, Desmond, and Rogers Smith. 2005. Racial orders in American political development. American Political Science Review 99 (1): 7592.
Kuhn, Thomas. 1996. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Laidler, Karen, and Geoffrey Hunt. 1997. Violence and social organization in female gangs. Social Justice 24 (4): 14869.
Lieberman, Robert, Anne Schnedier, and Helen Ingram. 1995. Social construction (continued): Response. American Political Science Review 89 (2): 44146.
Lien, Pei-Te. 1998. Does the gender gap in political attitudes and behavior vary across racial groups? Political Research Quarterly 51 (4): 86994.
Madriz, Esther. 1997. Nothing Bad Happens to Good Girls: Fear of Crime in Women's Lives. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
MacKinnon, Catherine. 1989. A Feminist Theory of the State. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Mamdani, Mahmoud. 2001. When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Martinez, Elizabeth. 1993. Beyond Black/white: The racisms of our time. Social Justice 20 (1–2): 2234.
McCall, Leslie. 2005. The complexity of intersectionality. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30 (3): 17711800.
McClintock, Anne. 1993. Family feuds: Gender, nationalism and the family. Feminist Review 44 (Summer): 6180.
Mekuria, Salem, Seble Dawit, and Nahid Toubia. 1995. Female genital mutilation in Africa: Some African views. ACAS Bulletin 44–45: 26.
Mendelberg, Tali. 2001. The Race Card: Campaign Strategy, Implicit Messages and the Norm of Equality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Merelman, Richard M. 1984. Making Something of Ourselves: On Culture and Politics in the United States. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Mink, Gwendolyn. 1998. Welfare's End. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Mink, Gwendolyn. 1999. Whose Welfare? Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Morsy, Soheir. 1991. Safeguarding women's bodies: The white man's burden medicalized. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 5 (1): 1923.
Newbury, Catharine. 1994. Introduction: Paradoxes of democracy in Africa. African Studies Review 37 (1): 18.
Nnaemeka, Obioma. 1998. Introduction: Reading the Rainbow. In Sisterhood, Feminisms and Power. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, Inc.
Ogbu, John. 1995a. Cultural problems in minority education: Their interpretations and consequences—Part One: Theoretical Background. Urban Review 27 (3): 189205.
Ogbu, John. 1995b. Cultural problems in minority education: Their interpretations and consequences—Part Two: Case Studies. Urban Review 27 (4): 27197.
Ogbu, John, and Signithia Fordham. 1986. Black students' school success: Coping with the burden of “acting white.” Urban Review 18 (3): 176206.
Ogbu, John, and Herbert Simons. 1998. Voluntary and involuntary minorities: A cultural-ecological theory of school performance with some implications for education. Anthropology and Education Quarterly 29 (2): 15588.
Ogundipe-Leslie, Molara. 1994. Recreating Ourselves: African Women and Critical Transformations. Trenton: Africa World Press.
Okeke, Philomena E. 1996. Postmodern feminism and knowledge production: The African context. Africa Today 43 (3): 22334.
Oloka-Onyango, J., and Sylvia Tamale. 1995. The personal is political, or why women's rights are indeed human rights: An African perspective on international feminism. Human Rights Quarterly 17 (4): 691731.
Orfield, Gary. 2004. “Equal but Separate? The Shape of Public Education Today.” Presented at Brown at 50 Conference, Yale University Law School, April 1–3.
Prothrow-Stith, Deborah. 1991. Deadly Consequences: How Violence Is Destroying our Teenage Population and a Plan to Begin Solving the Problem. New York: Harper Collins.
Quadagno, Jill. 1994. The Color of Welfare: How Racism Undermined the War on Poverty. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ragin, Charles. 2000. Fuzzy-Set Social Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rivera, Jenny. 1997. Domestic violence against Latinas by Latino males. In Critical Race Feminism, ed. Adrien Katherine Wing. New York: New York University Press.
Root, Maria P.P. 1989. Resolving “other” status: Identity development of biracial individuals. In Diversity and Complexity in Feminist Therapy, ed. L.S. Brown and Maria P.P. Root. New York: Haworth Press.
Root, Maria P.P., ed. 1992. Racially Mixed People in America. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Sapiro, Virginia. 1990. The gender basis of American social policy. In Women, the State and Welfare, ed. Linda Gordon. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Schaffner, Laurie, Shelley Shick, and Nancy Stein. 1997. Changing Policy in San Francisco: Girls in the Juvenile Justice System. Social Justice 24 (4): 187ff.
Schneider, Anne, and Helen Ingram. 1993. Social construction of target populations: Implications for politics and policy. American Political Science Review 87 (2): 33447.
Schneider, Anne, and Helen Ingram. 1995. Social construction (continued): Response. American Political Science Review 89 (2): 44146.
Schram, Sanford. 1995. Words of Welfare: The Poverty of Social Science and the Social Science of Poverty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Schroedel, Jean, and Daniel Jordan. 1998. Senate voting and social construction of target populations: A study of AIDS policy making, 1987–1992. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 23 (1): 10732.
Scott, Joan. 1984. Gender: A useful category of historical analysis? American Historical Review 91 (December): 105375.
Sellers, Robert, and J. Nicole Shelton. 2003. The role of racial identity in perceived racial discrimination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84 (5): 107992.
Sen, Gita, and Caren Grown. 1987. Development, Crises and Alternative Visions: Third World Women's Perspectives. New York: Monthly Review Press.
Shapiro, Ian. 2002. Problems, methods and theories in the study of politics; or, what's wrong with political science and what to do about it. Political Theory 30 (4): 568611.
Shelton, J. Nicole, and Robert Sellers. 2000. Situational Stability and Variability in African American Racial Identity. Journal of Black Psychology 26 (1): 2750.
Sklar, Richard. 1996. Democracy in Africa. African Studies Review 26 (3–4): 1124.
Skocpol, Theda. 1995. Social Policy in the United States. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Smith, Rogers M. 1993. Beyond Toqueville, Myrdal and Hartz: The multiple traditions thesis in America. American Political Science Review 87 (2): 54965.
Smith, Rogers M. 2003. Stories of Peoplehood. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Sniderman, Paul, Philip Tetlock, and Paul Brady. 1991. Reasoning and Choice: Explorations in Political Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Soss, Joe. 1999. Lessons of Welfare: Policy design, political learning and political action. American Political Science Review 93 (2): 36380.
Soss, Joe, and Danielle LeClair. 2004. Race, sex and the implicit politics of welfare reform. Presented at Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meetings, Chicago, April 15–18.
Spelman, Elizabeth. 1988. Inessential Woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought. Boston: Beacon Press.
Steady, Filomena Chioma. 1987. African feminism: A worldwide perspective. In Women in Africa and the African Diaspora, ed. Roslyn Terborg-Penn et al. Washington: Howard University Press.
Steele, Claude M. 1992. “Race and the Schooling of Black Americans.” Atlantic Monthly 269 (4): 6878.
Steele, Claude M., and Joshua Aronson. 1995. Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69: 797811.
Steele, Claude M., and David Sherman. 1999. The psychological predicament of women on welfare. In Cultural Divides: Understanding and Overcoming Group Conflict, ed. David Prentice and David Miller. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Sylvester, Christine. 1995. African and western feminisms: World traveling the tendencies and possibilities. Signs 20 (4): 94169.
Taliman, Valerie. 2003. “Native Currents: Termination by Bureaucracy.” Indian Country Today, May 28.
Talpade Mohanty, Chandra. 1991. Under western eyes. In Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, ed. Chandra Talpade Mohanty et al. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Tate, Katherine. 1994. From Protest to Politics: The New Black Voters in American Elections. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Ture, Kwame, and Charles V. Hamilton. 1992 [1967]. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. New York: Random House.
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Accessed April 2005.
U.S. Department of Health, and Human Services. Accessed April 2005.
West, Candace, and Sarah Fenstermaker. 1995. Doing difference. Gender and Society 9 (1): 837.
West, Guida. 1981. The National Welfare Rights Movement: The Social Protest of Poor Women. New York: Praeger.
Williams, Melissa. 1998. Voice, Trust and Memory: Marginalized Groups and the Failings of Liberal Representation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Wing, Adrien Katherine, ed. 1997. Critical Race Feminism. New York: New York University Press.
Wing, Adrien Katherine 2000. Global Critical Race Feminism. New York: New York University Press.
Wing, Adrien Katherine 2001. Polygamy from Southern Africa to Black Brittania to Black America: Global critical race feminism as legal reform for the twenty-first century. Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 11 (2): 81163.
Wing, Adrien Katherine 2005. Examining the correlation between disability and poverty: A comment from a critical race feminist perspective—Helping the Joneses to keep up! Journal of Gender, Race and Justice 8 (3): 65566.
Wing, Adrien Katherine, and Catherine Willis. 1997. Sisters in the hood: Beyond bloods and crips. In Critical Race Feminism. New York: New York University Press.
Young, Iris Marion. 1997. Intersecting Voices: Dilemmas of Gender, Political Philosophy and Policy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 98
Total number of PDF views: 1445 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 3125 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.