Review Of "Researching Black Communities: A Methodological Guide" Edited By J. S. Jackson, C. H. Caldwell, And S. L. Sellers

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Book Review

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Contemporary Sociology


The expression “a diamond in the rough” describes this collection of essays which seem dry and disorganized, while offering several brilliant observations about what it means to conduct thorough, thoughtful, and rigorous social science research. Researching Black Communities is separated into four parts, and from the perspective of this scholar, there is little rhyme or reason to the categories—”Theoretical Issues: Race, Ethnicity, Culture, Gender, Class, and Intersectionality”; “Research with U.S. and International Populations involving Children, Couples, and Women”; “Strategies for Obtaining National Data with African Americans, Caribbean Blacks, and Black Churches”; and “Research Involving Structural Issues Focused on Families, the Mental Health System, and the Media.” The essays within each part did not cohere and the four parts do not make either intuitive or logical sense as categories. The first essay, co-authored by editors James Jackson, Cleopatra Caldwell, and Sherrill Sellers, serves as an introduction to the entire collection. It would have been stronger had it preceded the first part as a stand-alone introduction to the volume, allowing the editors to be more self-conscious in explaining why this topic is so important, to cite the range of extraordinary scholarship on African Americans and other blacks throughout Africa and the diaspora, and to explain how each essay is useful to which disciplines.

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