7 June 2021
14:15 - 15:45
Online - see link below

Seminar: Ali R. Chaudhary – Boundary-Making


Link to online seminar below


Title: Ascriptive Categories and Boundary-Making in Everyday Life



Sociologists have amassed a wealth of scholarship on group-level inequalities across many dimensions of social life. In the United States, ascriptive status markers such as race, ethnicity, and nationality operate as social categories which are stratified in accordance with group hierarchies. The nature of the stratification and the consequences of the social categories can be informed by historical, domestic, and transnational contexts. Over the past several years, I have conducted a number of empirical studies that share a common thematic question: How do ascriptive categories inform social processes and everyday life?  I have examined how racial, ethnic, and national ascriptive categories correspond with transnational contexts that mediate the civic engagement of immigrant groups in the United States and Western Europe.

Along with research on the effects of ascriptive categories, I posit it is critical to carefully consider the boundary-making processes contributing to the maintenance of ascriptive categorical inequalities in everyday life.  The term “everyday life” refers to routine activities in modern societies such as the production and consumption of cultural objects (e.g. consumer goods). I discuss recent scholarship seeking to uncover the persistence of racial inequality within the consumer marketplace and present preliminary results from a qualitative study on racial boundary-making in historic advertising catalogs. Using the case of the electric guitar, I explore how racial boundaries were activated and reinforced through the exclusive use of images of White men in advertising materials. Since the instrument was pioneered and popularized by Black men, the exclusive use of White men in guitar advertising symbolically erased the racial diversity of the users and potential consumers of the object. This historic case illustrates the universality of the ascriptive racial hierarchy in 20th century everyday life. I conclude by arguing for increased systematic research on the maintenance and consequences of ascriptive categories within the production, advertising, and consumption of cultural objects.



Dr. Ali R. Chaudhary is a North American sociologist specializing in migration studies, political sociology, and the sociology of culture. He is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick-New Jersey (USA) and a Fellow at the International Migration Institute-Amsterdam. Dr. Chaudhary was previously based at University of Oxford as a Marie Curie Early Career Researcher. His past scholarship examines the consequences of ascriptive categories in self-employment, voting and civic engagement, non-profit organizations, and most recently, in the 20th century advertising of the electric guitar. He teaches undergraduate and doctoral-level courses on international migration, comparative migration studies, the contemporary sociological theory. His past scholarship appears the International Migration Review, Global Networks, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and the Sociological Quarterly, among others.


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