Beyond the Cake Model: Critical Intersectionality and the Relative Advantage of Disadvantage

Robert Lee Oprisko, Josh Caplan


Intersectionality came about as a critique of traditional, uniaxial studies of oppression.  The initial wave argued that the intersection(s) of multiple axes of social construction create uniquely experienced forms of domination and oppression that can only be studied within the context of said intersections. Methodologically, intersectional research has been used primarily as a tool of studying dichotomous intersections of race, gender, and class.  However, theoretically focused literature articulates the importance of operating in a more complex understanding of intersectional axes by adding both breadth and depth. Current intersectional studies, therefore, are locked intradeoff between precision and generalizability in any quantitative research and intersect thus far, the power of intersectionality remains unrealized. 

This paper argues for a large-scale expansion of the number of variables studied in order to gain the most precise understandings of social construction. This creates a tradeoff between precision and generalizability. The power of intersectionality however is not in its generalizability, but rather in its precision for the study of small-n groups.  We suggest moving beyond the cake model and into acritical intersectionalitymodel that embraces the agential realism of quantum politics.


Intersectionality; Methodology; Quantum Politics; Social String Theory; Critical Theory; Human Dignity

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