Howard Winant is an American sociologist and race theorist. Professor Winant is best known for developing the theory of racial formation along with Michael Omi. Currently, Winant is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Winant's research and teachings revolve around race and racism, comparative historical sociology, political sociology, social theory, and human rights.
Education and career
Howard Winant is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is also affiliated with the Black Studies and Chicana/o Studies departments. He received his Ph.D from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1980. Winant has worked and taught in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.
Racial Formation in the United States
Winant's most influential work has been his 1986 collaboration with UC Berkeley Professor Michael Omi, Racial Formation in the United States. The theory draws upon Gramsci's conception of hegemony to describe the social construction of the race concept in contemporary US society. Omi and Winant argue that race emerged as an organizing factor in society due to political actions they call racial projects. These racial projects remain ongoing, making race an unstable social category that is constantly changing, as evidenced by the changing nature of race relations as the result of political actions such as the Civil Rights Movement. Still, as Gramsci would predict, the reforms secured during crisis moments like the Civil Rights era have contradictory effects: they both extend democracy and demobilize resistance. The political project of racial equality remains incomplete. Thus, the fundamental dynamics of race including institutional racism and continued inequality along racialized lines remain in place today, according to Omi and Winant.
Racial formation has solidified as one of the primary paradigms of sociological understandings of race. Omi and Winant identify reductionist theories of race that identify race as epiphenomenal rather than durable as the chief competing theories of racial dynamics in contemporary sociology.
Winant is the founder and director of the University of California Center for New Racial Studies, a multidisciplinary program active on all ten UC campuses of the UC. The UCCNRS works to network and support new approaches to race/racism research and teaching at UC and beyond. Its deeper goal is to encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative work focused on advancing social/racial justice in an era of changing racial dynamics and persistent racial/ethnic conflict and inequality.
- "Just Do It: Notes on Politics and Race at the Dawn of the Obama Presidency," Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, Vol. 6, no. 1 (Spring 2009).
- "The Dark Side of the Force: One Hundred Years of the Sociology of Race.” In Craig Calhoun, ed. Sociology in America: A History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).
- "Race and Racism: Toward a Global Future." In Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 29. no. 5 (Sept. 2006).
- "Teaching Race and Racism in the 21st Century: Thematic Considerations." In Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society (Institute for Research in-African American Studies, Columbia University), Vol. 6, nos. 3-4 (2004).
- The New Politics of Race (University of Minnesota 2004)
- The World Is a Ghetto: Race and Democracy Since World War II (Basic Books 2001)
- "Race in the New Millennium," Colorlines: Race Culture, Action (2000)
- Racial Conditions: Politics, Theory, Comparisons (University of Minnesota 1994)
- "Behind Blue Eyes: Contemporary White Racial Politics," New Left Review (1997)
- Racial Formation In The United States, (co-author: Michael Omi) (Routledge 1986; 2nd ed. 1994; 3rd ed., 2014).