Micro, Macro, Meso


A Theory of Racialized Organizations by Victor Ray
American Sociological Review, January 1, 2019

Organizations are many things: ecosystems, communities, and, writes Dr. Victor Ray, racial structures, “cognitive schemas connecting organizational rules to social and material resources.” Ray’s theory offers a powerful framework for recognizing and addressing racial disparity in schools. Beginning with the premise that race “is constitutive of organizational foundations, hierarchies, and processes,” Ray posits key tenets underpinning organizations that challenge the notion of organizations as race-neutral structures, notably that organizations limit agency on the basis of race, legitimize the unequal distribution of resources, and see Whiteness as a credential. By focusing on the organizational level of analysis, which Ray names the Meso level to distinguish it from the Micro (individual) and the Macro (institutional), he draws our attention to the role that schools and individual workplaces play in upholding racial disparities through wage differentials, racialized tracking, and racial segregation. Citing Critical Race Theory and the idea of Whiteness as property, Ray highlights the way that organizations such as schools make racialized schemas “durable” by connecting them to specific resources and opportunities and by “decouple[ing] formal commitments to equity, access, and inclusion from policies and practices that reinforce, or at least do not challenge, existing racial hierarchies.” Ray’s work is useful as a reference as schools seek to more fully interrogate and understand their own racial dynamics and disparities.

Submitted By: Jessica Flaxman, 120 Education Consultancy, Belmont, MA

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