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After Civil Rights:
Racial Realism in the New American Workplace
John D. Skrentny

Winner of the 2014 Richard A. Lester Award for the Outstanding Book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics, Industrial Relations Section of Princeton University
Finalist for the 2014 Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change National Book Award, The University of Memphis
Honorable Mention for the 2015 Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award, Racial and Ethnic Minorities Section of the American Sociological Association

Paperback | 2015 | $27.95 | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691168128
416 pp. | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Hardcover | 2013 | $35.00 | ($21.00) / £24.95 | (£14.97) | ISBN: 9780691159966
416 pp. | 6 x 9 | 1 halftone. 8 line illus.
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Read the author's op-ed in the New York Times
"The Civil Rights Act Is Broken," Zócalo Public Square

What role should racial difference play in the American workplace? As a nation, we rely on civil rights law to address this question, and the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964 seemingly answered it: race must not be a factor in workplace decisions. In After Civil Rights, John Skrentny contends that after decades of mass immigration, many employers, Democratic and Republican political leaders, and advocates have adopted a new strategy to manage race and work. Race is now relevant not only in negative cases of discrimination, but in more positive ways as well. In today's workplace, employers routinely practice "racial realism," where they view race as real--as a job qualification. Many believe employee racial differences, and sometimes immigrant status, correspond to unique abilities or evoke desirable reactions from clients or citizens. They also see racial diversity as a way to increase workplace dynamism. The problem is that when employers see race as useful for organizational effectiveness, they are often in violation of civil rights law.

After Civil Rights examines this emerging strategy in a wide range of employment situations, including the low-skilled sector, professional and white-collar jobs, and entertainment and media. In this important book, Skrentny urges us to acknowledge the racial realism already occurring, and lays out a series of reforms that, if enacted, would bring the law and lived experience more in line, yet still remain respectful of the need to protect the civil rights of all workers.

John D. Skrentny is professor of sociology and director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego. His books include The Minority Rights Revolution and The Ironies of Affirmative Action: Politics, Culture, and Justice in America.


"After Civil Rights makes a compelling case for the pervasiveness of race-conscious employment practices."--Glenn Altschuler, Florida Courier

"John Skrentny, Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC-San Diego, gives readers a well-researched, thoroughly documented and provocative work, presenting his theory for how employers view race in the workplace in the USA. . . . Skrentny's chapter on racial realism, and its corollary, immigrant realism, in the low-wage workplace, is one I wish I had written. . . . His account of how the law works in practice and on the ground is a great read for those interested in legal studies, history, political science, sociology or civil rights."--Leticia Saucedo, LSE Review of Books

"If you want to explore deeper social policy, it is worth a read."--Barry H. Dyller, Trial

"With the book’s over 1,300 notes, scores of case law findings, and dozens of studies on race and labor market outcomes, it is impossible not to be impressed by Skrentny’s erudition, research prowess, and deft ability to link multiple academic disciplines under one driving question. . . . If you are a race, labor, immigration, or legal scholar you should absolutely read this book. You will never think about Title VII or the intersection of race and employment decisions in the same way again."--Charles A. Gallagher, American Journal of Sociology

"Skrentny shows that in many sectors of the labor market, race is used in ways that were unanticipated when the 1964 Civil Rights Act was enacted. . . . [His] account of racial realism in the low-skilled sector is chilling."--Kevin Lang, Journal of Economic Literature

"This book skillfully presents comprehensive empirical research and is written in a conversational style accessible to a wide audience."--Nigel Carter, Transfer

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Table of Contents:

List of Figures and Tables ix
Preface xi
Chapter 1 Managing Race in the American Workplace 1
Chapter 2 Leverage Racial Realism in the Professions and Business 38
Chapter 3 We the People Racial Realism in Politics and Government 89
Chapter 4 Displaying Race for Dollars Racial Realism in Media and Entertainment 153
Chapter 5 The Jungle Revisited? Racial Realism in the Low-Skilled Sector 216
Chapter 6 Bringing Practice, Law, and Values Together 265
Notes 291
Index 383

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