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The History of Social Justice with Musa al-Gharbi

Thursday October 10 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm EDT

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Join sociologist and writer Musa al-Gharbi in conversation with novelist and theologian Tara Isabella Burton about his new book We Have Never Been Woke: The Cultural Contradictions of a New Elite.

In We Have Never Been Woke, al-Gharbi argues that “wokeness” can be fruitfully understood as the ruling ideology of an increasingly dominant class of elites: symbolic capitalists. In education, media, nonprofits, and beyond, symbolic capitalists work primarily with words, ideas, images, and data and are very likely to identify as allies of antiracist, feminist, and other progressive causes. While their commitment to equality may be sincere, they actively benefit from and perpetuate the inequalities they decry. Indeed, their “woke” credentials help them gain more power and status, often at the expense of the disadvantaged.

Cutting across the fields of sociology, political science, philosophy, and psychology, We Have Never Been Woke explores why symbolic capitalists associate themselves so strongly with social justice, what social justice discourse and symbolic “justice-oriented” actions actually accomplish (if anything), and why the winners in the prevailing order seem so eager to paint themselves as victims—and allies of the same.

The problem, in short, is not that symbolic capitalists are too woke but that we’ve never been woke.

About the author

Musa al-Gharbi is a sociologist and assistant professor in the School of Communications and Journalism at Stony Brook University. He is a columnist for The Guardian and his writing has appeared in The AtlanticNew York TimesWashington Post, and elsewhere.

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The History of Social Justice with Musa al-Gharbi
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Thursday October 10
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm EDT
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