This article focuses on the role that silence plays in three different contexts in relation to processes of racialisation in welfare regimes. The first is the silencing of race in the debate surrounding the welfare system in the US and its historical role in reproducing racialisation, as in the case of the “welfare queen” stereotype. My aim here is to highlight the active role played by what is not said, and how racialisation, which can be defined as the attachment of racial meaning to an act, behaviour, or social entity, moves from one object to the other without openly naming them as racial, but coding them as such. The second context of analysis takes as a case study the child welfare system in New York and the difficulty of discussing its “racial disproportionality” – the overrepresentation of families of colour among its recipients. Race and racialisation are indeed ubiquitous and intermittently silenced objects – “elephants in the room” – that are cautiously handled by experts and not in the public debate. On the other hand, this article takes into consideration how the people impacted by the child welfare system voice racialisation, acknowledging it as being constantly on the horizon of their interaction with institutions, and sharing their everyday experience of racial profiling, biases, and discrimination. In the article, I reflect also on my identity and positionality in the field, trying to expose and to analyze the mechanisms of silencing, suppression, and concealment this positionality could entail, and the consequences for academic rigor and the ethical stakes of my investigation.

The elephant in the room. Silencing racialization in welfare regimes

Castellano,Viola
2021

Abstract

This article focuses on the role that silence plays in three different contexts in relation to processes of racialisation in welfare regimes. The first is the silencing of race in the debate surrounding the welfare system in the US and its historical role in reproducing racialisation, as in the case of the “welfare queen” stereotype. My aim here is to highlight the active role played by what is not said, and how racialisation, which can be defined as the attachment of racial meaning to an act, behaviour, or social entity, moves from one object to the other without openly naming them as racial, but coding them as such. The second context of analysis takes as a case study the child welfare system in New York and the difficulty of discussing its “racial disproportionality” – the overrepresentation of families of colour among its recipients. Race and racialisation are indeed ubiquitous and intermittently silenced objects – “elephants in the room” – that are cautiously handled by experts and not in the public debate. On the other hand, this article takes into consideration how the people impacted by the child welfare system voice racialisation, acknowledging it as being constantly on the horizon of their interaction with institutions, and sharing their everyday experience of racial profiling, biases, and discrimination. In the article, I reflect also on my identity and positionality in the field, trying to expose and to analyze the mechanisms of silencing, suppression, and concealment this positionality could entail, and the consequences for academic rigor and the ethical stakes of my investigation.
Castellano,Viola
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/865049
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