Sep 26 2018

Legacy of Inequality: Exclusion, Whiteness, and White Normativity in Nineteenth Century Fraternal Organizations featuring Pamela Popielarz

September 26, 2018

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


BSB 4105


Chicago, IL 60612

This project develops and illustrates a critical perspective on organizations and racial/ethnic domination. The historical setting is the tumultuous American industrial period. The empirical subjects are the Freemasons and the Knights of Pythias, two of that era’s many racially-exclusionary white fraternal orders. I focus on two processes that produced racial/ethnic inequality, one within the fraternal realm and the other spilling over into the economy. First, I use a theoretical perspective on whiteness in organizations to empirically study the racial/ethnic dynamics of these moral improvement brotherhoods. The analysis reveals the formal and informal mechanisms by which the orders remained racially homogeneous, the orders’ practices of racial/ethnic othering, and their antagonistic relations with racially inclusive African-American fraternal orders. Second, I argue that because fraternal orders included business owners, investors, managers and employees, two mutually reinforcing dynamics arose. On one hand, many business practices were absorbed into the everyday operation of fraternal orders. On the other hand, white normativity was injected into the business world, reinforcing a widespread and enduring conception of white men as uniquely competent and legitimate practitioners of business.

Pamela Popielarz (Ph.D., Cornell University) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, she studies organizations and social networks.

Bring your lunch and we'll provide the beverages and cookies!


Sociology Student Workers

Date posted

Sep 24, 2018

Date updated

Sep 24, 2018