Theorizing a racialized congressional workplace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The US Congress is a racialized governing institution that plays an important role structuring the racial hierarchy in the nation. Despite Congress’s influence, there is little theoretical and empirical research on its racialized structure that is, how it operates and the racial processes that shape it. This lacuna has developed from a narrow conceptualization of Congress as a political institution, and it ignores how it is a multifaceted organization that features a large and complex workplace. Congressional staff are the invisible force in American policymaking, and it is through their assistance that members of Congress can fulfill their responsibilities. However, the congressional workplace is stratified along racial lines. In this chapter, I theorize how the congressional workplace became racialized, and I identify the racial processes that maintain a racialized workplace today. I investigate how lawmakers have organized their workplace and made decisions about which workers would be appropriate for different types of roles in the Capitol. Through a racial analysis of the congressional workplace, I show a connection between Congress as an institution and workplace and how racial domination is a thread that connects and animates both its formal and informal structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
ISSN (Print)0733-558X

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


  • Congress
  • Congressional staff
  • Institutions
  • Racialization
  • Racism
  • Workplace


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