Marginal Groups and Mainstream American Culture

Yolanda Estes, Arnold Lorenzo Farr, Patricia Smith, and Clelia Smyth, eds.

They are often portrayed as outsiders: ethnic minorities, the poor, the disabled, and so many others—all living on the margins of mainstream society. Countless previous studies have focused on their pain and powerlessness, but that has done little more than sustain our preconceptions of marginalized groups.

Most accounts of marginalization approach the subject from a distance and tend to overemphasize the victimization of outsiders. Taking a more intimate approach, this book reveals the personal, moral, and social implications of marginalization by drawing upon the actual experiences of such individuals.

“A very significant contribution to philosophical thinking about marginalization and marginalized people, a large percentage of whom are female—the aged, the poor, people of color, disabled people, Fundamentalist Christians, lonely children, and single mothers. Should be of great interest and useful to philosophers, as well as to students in sociology, social work, law, women’s studies, ethnic studies, and political science.”

—Claudia Card, author of Lesbian Choices and editor of Feminist Ethics

Multidisciplinary and multicultural, Identity on the Margin addresses marginalization at a variety of social levels and within many different social phenomena, going beyond familiar cases dealing with race, ethnicity, and gender to examine such outsiders as renegade children, conservative Christians, and the physically and mentally disabled. And because women are especially subject to the effects of marginalization, feminist concerns and the marginalization of sexual practices provide a common denominator for many of the essays.

From problems posed by "complimentary racism" to the status of gays in Tony Blair's England, from the struggle of Native Americans to preserve their identities to the singular problems of single mothers, Identity on the Margin takes in a broad spectrum of cases to provide theoretical analysis and ethical criticism of the mechanisms of identity formation at the edges of society. In all of the cases, the authors demonstrate the need for theory that initiates social change by considering the ethical implications of marginalization and criticizing its harmful effects.

Bringing together accounts of marginalization from many different disciplines and perspectives, this collection addresses a broad audience in the humanities and social sciences. It offers a basis for enhancing our understanding of this process—and for working toward meaningful social change.

About the Author

Yolanda Estes is assistant professor of philosophy at Mississippi State University. Arnold Lorenzo Farr is assistant professor of philosophy at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Patricia Smith is professor of philosophy at Baruch College and author of Feminist Jurisprudence. Clelia Smyth is an educational advisor for the University of Kentucky.

Additional Titles in the Feminist Ethics Series