Advancing a perspective on the intersections of diversity: challenges for research and social policy

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Author: Lori Wilkinson
Date: Fall 2003
From: Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal(Vol. 35, Issue 3)
Publisher: Canadian Ethnic Studies Association
Document Type: Article
Length: 5,964 words

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The influence of intersecting identity markers on the life chances of individuals has become a central concern to policymakers and academics. Governing bodies and various social institutions have a vested interest in accommodating intersectionality to create inclusive spaces for all citizens. Similarly, researchers want to accurately depict the lifestyles of their subjects. Yet when intersections are applied in politics and research, the three identity markers of gender, social class, and ethnicity prevail. Other important identity markers such as Aboriginal status, ability/disability, age, ethnicity, religion, language, immigration, and region are largely neglected despite the recognition that these markers can greatly influence individual outcomes. As a result, researchers and policymakers have not fully engaged in intersections and measuring their combinations in comprehending various social phenomena. This paper opens the discussion on the need for an intersectional theory, a description of what the theory might look like, and an examination of the academic and policy challenges related to such theorising. The anticipated outcome of this work, and the others in this edited volume, is for researchers, policymakers, and concerned stakeholders to begin thinking in terms of intersections in order to enrich our understanding of life and experiences.

Lorsque la recherche et la theorie deviennent plus complexes, l'incidence du croisement des marqueurs de l'identite sur les chances d'epanouissement des personnes est devenue une preoccupation principale. Les organes directeurs et differentes institutions sociales ont aussi un interet personnel a concilier l'intersectionalite afin de creer des espaces inclusifs pour tous les citoyens. Toutefois, lorsque les intersections sont appliquees au domaine des politiques et de la recherche, les trois marqueurs de l'identite du sexe, de la classe sociale et de l'ethnicite predominent. D'autres marqueurs de l'identite importants tels que l'appartenance a une population autochtone, la capacite/l'incapacite, l'age, l'ethnicite, la religion, la langue, l'immigration et la religion sont largement negliges malgre la reconnaissance que ces marqueurs peuvent influer grandement sur les resultats individuels. Par consequent, les chercheurs et les decideurs ne se sont pas entierement engages envers les intersections et a mesurer leurs combinaisons dans la comprehension des divers phenomenes sociaux. Ce document traite du besoin de mener de la recherche dans le domaine des intersections, donne un apercu preliminaire d'une theorie intersectionnelle et souligne ses problemes possibles. En conclusion, ce document fait etat des defis que pose la mise en aeuvre de la theorisation intersectionnelle dans la recherche dans les domaines des politiques sociales et des sciences humaines.


Understanding how the intersection of various identity markers influences individual life chances is a complex task. Policymakers are challenged in the design and implementation of legislation to alleviate the social problems faced by specialised groups while maintaining their commitment to govern society. Researchers are also challenged in the way they conduct their studies by examining several identity markers within their investigations. Rarely do they have the rime to consider the effects of the intersection of these identity markers. Instead, the goal is to isolate the "unique" effects of one variable on particular social phenomena. It has become...

Source Citation

Source Citation
Wilkinson, Lori. "Advancing a perspective on the intersections of diversity: challenges for research and social policy." Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal, vol. 35, no. 3, 2003, p. 26+. Accessed 13 June 2021.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A116860849