The post-civil rights era has left an important dilemma in U.S. politics. Despite the fact that the United States has become more integrated across racial and gendered lines since the 1960s, inequality, particularly economic inequality, has grown. Although much of that inequality continues to fall along racial, gender, and class lines, the opportunities afforded by the “rights revolution” have also created an important heterogeneity of privilege within marginal groups. As social scientists, how best can we identify the sources and results of this inequality? More specifically, how can we better understand the crosscutting political effects of both marginalization and privilege within and among groups in U.S. society? I contend that intersections theory may be a useful place to begin, and that the idea of intersectionality could provide a fruitful framework with which to understand issues of inequality in the post-civil rights era. Such a framework would help address some of the theoretical problems that sometimes arise within empirical work on marginal groups in political science and, ideally, allow scholars to understand better how experiences of marginalization and privilege affect the shape and character of American political life.
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