Charles Gallagher, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Research and Teaching Interests
My research focuses on racial and social inequality and the ways in which the media, the state and popular culture constructs, shapes and disseminates ideas of race. I’ve published articles on the sociological functions of colorblind political narratives, how racial categories expand and contract within the context of interracial marriages, race theory, racial innumeracy and how one’s ethnic history shapes perceptions of privilege.
Much of my research takes as its starting point the finding that a majority of white Americans (as well as some racial minorities) now believe that race no longer shapes life chances. This finding is mirrored in nationally representative polling data that tells us that a majority of white Americans now imagine that racial minorities have the same, if not more, avenues to upward mobility than whites. My analysis of interview and survey data from whites around the country attempts to reconcile how a majority of whites can view the opportunity structure as colorblind when almost every quality of life indicator tells a story of growing race based social inequality. I argue that color blind race narratives serve an important ideological function to simultaneously maintain white privilege while promoting the idea that the United States has finally become a truly, post-race meritocractic society.
I have two new projects I am currently starting. The first asks if poverty creates obstacles to needed health care that is uniform across racial and ethnic groups or does access to health care, even among the most vulnerable, poor populations vary by race, ethnicity and immigration status?
The second project comes out of my role as an expert witness for a large discrimination case that involved two large motorcycle rallies, one black and one white, both of which converge on the same beach community in the month of May. This project provides a truly unique sociological window into how white communities mobilize to protect their material and symbolic interests and the various strategies they employ to maintain the color line through seemingly colorblind discourse.
When not immersed in sociology I try to travel the globe, camp and impart my cooking and baking secrets to my two young daughters.