“What Stories Teach Us about Race, Social Class, and Caste”

American Journal of Economics and Sociology (AJES)

Seeking articles from anyone who watches movies or TV

Due: January 15 (flexible)

AJES is seeking essays on the ways in which race, caste, ethnicity, and social class affect the  opportunities faced by members of both marginalized and privileged groups and the choices made in response to those conditions.  How are these social rules constructed, enforced, and reproduced over time?  When they are violated, what are the consequences?  Are there any societies that are free of these social patterns?

The thesis of each article may derive from personal experience, social science theory, or pure imagination.  However, the primary source of the argument should come from stories and characters found in movies, television series, plays, novels, or graphic novels.  Scholarly sources may be used to critique the ideas conveyed by fiction but should not serve as primary evidence.

Articles should deepen our understanding of how racial and economic elitism function and how those practices can be resisted. What can we learn about social and existential conflicts from the artistic representations of them?  This is not an occasion for academic criticism that focuses on theories and methods.  On this occasion, setting, story, and character development are of central importance.  Although high-quality drama provides the best source material, stories of little artistic merit can provide useful insights. Because of their large audiences, genres such as soap operas, telenovellas, horror, crime stories, space operas, or children’s cartoons may offer useful insights.

In economic and political theory, people are treated as agents with internally consistent interests.  The “characters” are one-dimensional.  In life and in fiction, people are multi-dimensional, self-contradictory characters embedded in conflicting roles with ambiguous motives.  Stories are inherently about the confusing interplay of multiple identities and conflicts.  This is precisely why fiction has the potential to reveal nuanced insights about the experience of oppression that are invisible to positivist social science theories and statistical analysis.

Essays should be written for a general audience, using as little academic jargon as possible.  The best model for the sort of writing sought here is the Atlantic Monthly: serious journalism that addresses issues of enduring importance.

Submissions should be 2,500 to 4,000 words.  The deadline  is flexible, but January 15 should be considered the target date.  Early submissions will be given preference.  After February 10, please write before submitting to see if we are still accepting articles. Query before writing for style guidelines or to determine if your topic is appropriate.

Similar issues on gender conflicts, government corruption, the condition of families,  and pressures on working people will be published in subsequent years, if this issue is successful.  Feel free to recommend topics for future issues.

Send queries and submissions to:  ajeseditor@gmail.com

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