Scholars and social commentators alike often imagine inclusion as a pathway to equality. The logic is rather straightforward: if two groups are distinct from one another, and resources are unequally distributed between them, then the group with more resources can concentrate its advantage. Yet when these groups begin to mingle, the boundaries between them become fuzzier, and the capacity to sustain unequal resource distributions is diminished. This talk draws upon a range of work to show instances where inclusion maintains or sustains the logic of segregation. The social world is full of such instances of inclusion absent integration: from elite schools, to workplaces, to modes of travel, to cultural institutions; this talk draws upon my work to highlight three such instances. I argue that inclusion may challenge the separation of groups, but it does not necessarily challenge the boundaries between the groups. I outline a model for understanding the conditions under which inclusion blurs versus brightens group boundaries and argue that these processes are essential for understanding contemporary inequalities.
Shamus Khan is a professor and chair of sociology at Columbia University, where he also serves on the executive committee of the Institute for Women, Gender, and Sexuality and the executive committee of American studies. He writes on culture, inequality, gender, and elites. He is the author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School (Princeton University Press), and the forthcoming (January 2020) Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus (W.W. Norton, with Jennifer Hirsch). He directed the working group on the political influence of economic elites at the Russell Sage Foundation, is the series editor of The Middle Range at Columbia University Press, and recently completed a five year term as the editor of the journal Public Culture. He writes regularly for the popular press such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and has served as a columnist for Time magazine. In 2016 he was awarded Columbia University’s highest teaching honor, the Presidential Teaching Award, and in 2018 he was awarded the Hans L. Zetterberg Prize.