Measuring Overlapping Systems of Oppression: A Structural Intersectionality Approach to Population Health Research

Patricia Homan , Florida State University

Intersectional perspectives in sociology are rooted in the insight that individuals’ experiences are shaped not by a single status hierarchy, but rather by multiple overlapping systems of oppression. Racism, sexism, capitalism (and other forms of oppression) intersect to shape individuals’ lives in complex ways. Intersectional approaches in demography have measured these systems at the individual level by creating categories reflecting various constellations of individual statuses (e.g. low-SES black women vs. high-SES white men) and examining variation in health and life expectancy across these groups. The emerging structural racism and structural sexism literatures in population health, point to promising new ways to measure systems of inequality at a more macro-level. Building on this line of research, the present study: (1) introduces a structural intersectionality approach, (2) examines the relationship between macro-level racism, sexism, and income inequality across U.S. states, and (3) explores how these dimensions of structural oppression affect population health.

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 Presented in Session 207. Intersectionality Approaches in Demography