Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




As a policy prescription, education is often considered a panacea for racism and sexism, and teachers therefore the conduits for social equality. Strategic intersectionality suggests that teachers who have marked identities, especially those who inhabit more

than one, may under certain circumstances experience a "multiple identity advantage" that can situate them as particularly effective advocates for others who are disadvantaged. This institutional ethnography explores the underlying premises of strategic

intersectionality and the countervailing effects of privilege through observations and indepth interviews of teachers in a primarily white elementary school, a primarily Hispanic elementary school, and a primarily African American elementary school, all within the

same school district north of Chicago. Despite a commitment to social justice by teachers, the school district, and the town itself, efforts to address issues of race, class, and gender inequality remain rooted in individual-level strategies with no critique of

contemporary institutional discrimination. The result is often an attempt by teachers to construct racial and gender utopias in their classrooms where "problems" of race and gender do not exist, and any connections to structural inequalities go unexamined or are

presented as historical facts.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.