Rethinking epistemology, methodology, and racism: or, is White sociology really dead?

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This paper examines the influence of racial epistemologies on social science research methods and knowledge production. Neo-liberal understandings of positivism and the institutional power that perpetuates them are criticized in favor of epistemological diversity in the academy. Drawing on the insider/outsider debate in sociology, particularly the dialogue with the “new Black sociology” movement of the 1970s, and feminist methodology and epistemology studies, the article outlines five typical racial epistemologies: (1) the Black/White racial epistemology, (2) the assimilationist epistemology, (3) the colonial domination epistemology, (4) the critical intersectional epistemology, and (5) the neo-liberal positivist epistemology. The author assesses the impact of each of the epistemologies on sociological research and discusses how these racial “ways of knowing” affect the creation of research questions, choice of analytic categories, selection of sociological theories, analysis of data, and ultimately, the knowledge and power relations we re/produce.