Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Advancing Research • Shaping Policy • Developing Leaders

Vesla Weaver’s New Paper on Race-Class Subjugated Communities

Publication date 
March 30, 2017
In a recent article, “Police Are Our Government,” political scientist Vesla Weaver (and co-author Joe Soss) explore the issues of America’s “predatory system of government” and “extraactive policing” within “race-class subjugated” (RCS) communities. RCS is a term created by the researchers that captures the interlacing of race and class: the racialized poor. From the events that transpired in Ferguson, where the US Department of Justice unfairly penalized poor and black residents, Weaver and Scott build a case on the exposure of the government’s unjustified harassment, incarceration, and treatment of RCS groups. Weaver and Soss also address the dissonance in existing political science literature between predatory local governance and the subfield of American liberal democracy. They argue that mainstream research ignores the purpose and practices of the state in the areas of surveillance, repression, and coercion.
Political scientists often misconstrue the political roles and struggles of race-class subjugated communities by attributing them to a lack of political voice or opportunity. Weaver and Soss contend that too much government attention is the problem, rather than the presupposed government inattention. Specifically, the expanded powers and aggression of police have made RCS communities routinized targets. Police become authorities not only in crime management and public safety, but also in race-shaping systems that create social identities. The researchers aim to illuminate the politics behind state social control and the institutions of policing in criminal justice to stimulate further debate.
The paper is published in the Annual Review of Political Science, and first posted online on March 15, 2017.