Diversity, media, and racial capitalism: a case study on publishing

Saha, Anamik and van Lente, Sandra. 2022. Diversity, media, and racial capitalism: a case study on publishing. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 45(16), pp. 216-236. ISSN 0141-9870 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article demonstrates the ambivalence of diversity in the cultural industries, and racial capitalism more broadly. Based upon an empirical study of the production of writers of colour in UK trade publishing, the article highlights how diversity acts a form of racial governance but is also a source of anxiety for the dominant culture. Opening with an overview of critical approaches to diversity, we then introduce the study, based upon in-depth interviews with 113 people, which explores how pub-lishers make sense of diversity, which include moral and economic arguments. While publishers are convinced that both the moral and economic cases for diversi-ty are aligned, we argue that they exist in a tension, which results in mostly reduc-tive outcomes for minoritised authors. But the article also highlights how diversity potentially disrupts the liberal sensibilities of the dominant culture, especially their sense of publishing as meritocratic.

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Additional Information:

The research for this article was funded by an AHRC Leader Fellowship Grant for ‘Re-thinking Diversity in Publishing: A Cultural Industries Perspective’ (AH/R01454X/1)


diversity, racial capitalism, cultural industries, publishing, meritocracy, race and media

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


4 January 2022Accepted
7 February 2022Published Online

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Date Deposited:

14 Jan 2022 09:38

Last Modified:

08 Feb 2022 13:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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