Cultural foundations of tokenism

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Citation: Catherine J. Turco (2010) Cultural foundations of tokenism. American Sociological Review (RSS)

doi: 10.1177/0003122410388491



Sociologists use the concept of a "token" individual to describe a member of a lower-status minority groups that are only rarely represented within a larger population and suggests that these "token" members have similar experiences. Turco suggests that important cultural differences between different "token" groups lead to very different experiences. She uses qualitative data from the leveraged buyout industry (LBO) — which is overwhelming white and male — to suggest that women and black men's experiences as a token group is very different. She suggests that the organizational culture of LBO has a hierarchy of cultural resources (e.g., a strong passion for sports) and an image of an ideal work (e.g., a tough guy) that effectively values cultural resources that some token groups (e.g., black men) and that women do not. Turco argues that in LBO, gender is a more relevant status characteristic than race and that women are culturally disadvantaged as a token.