What is whiteness? Why is it worth using as a tool in the social sciences? Making sociological sense of the idea of whiteness, this book skilfully argues how this concept can help us understand contemporary societies. If one of sociology's objectives is to make the familiar unfamiliar in order to gain heightened understanding, then whiteness offers a perfect opportunity to do so. Leaning firstly on the North American corpus, this key book critically engages with writings on the formation of white identities in Britain, Ireland and the Americas, using multidisciplinary sources. Empirical work done in the UK, including the author's own, is developed in order to suggest how whiteness functions in Britain. Bringing an emphasis on empirical work to a heavily theorized area, this important text synthesizes and reviews existing work, incorporates multidisciplinary sources of interest to those outside the sociology sphere, and features concise chapters which will engage undergraduates. Garner deftly argues that whiteness is a multifaceted, contingent and fluid identity, and that it must be incorporated into any contemporary understandings of racism as a system of power relationships in both its local and global forms.
Steve Garner is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He has published on racism, immigration, whiteness and colonialism.