Cassi Pittman

Cassi Pittman

Biography

Assistant Professor of  Sociology,  Case Western Reserve University
Black Privilege and Black Power: Black Consumers Managing Race and Racial Stigma
Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow
Spring 2018

 
 

Cassi L. Pittman is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. Dr. Pittman’s scholarship examines the underlying social and cultural processes that affect racial minorities’ economic behavior. Utilizing qualitative methods her work focuses on lived experiences of African American consumers. She has investigated African Americans’ experiences in the consumer market, as well as the mortgage market. In her upcoming book tentatively titled Black Power, Black Privilege she paints a picture of the everyday lives of middle-class African-Americans, revealing how both race and class affect their reality and inform their consumption preferences as displayed at work, in their neighborhoods, and at sites of leisure. Additionally, she has published research on middle-class blacks’ attitudes about social mobility and racial progress after the election of President Barack Obama. At present she is initiating a new research project that investigates the ways that race, class, and lifestyle preferences inform considerations of neighborhood desirably, focusing specifically on the residents of a predominantly black middle-class neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Pittman received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Project Description

Black Privilege and Black Power: Black Consumers Managing Race and Racial Stigma

During my time at the Hutchins Center I will work to complete my book tentatively titled Black Privilege and Black Power: Black Consumers Managing Race and Racial Stigma. In Black Privilege I trace middle-class blacks’ consumption across three social domains—where they live, where they work, and where they engage in leisure—to demonstrate the varied ways that race impacts their consumption. I offer an original analysis of what middle-class status buys blacks who have cultural capital, credentials, and cash on hand. The work interrogates how middle-class blacks manage racial stigma, while also working to preserve a sense of agency, worth, and humanity. The analysis reveals the complexities at the intersection of race and class as consumption objects are used as cultural tools to project contrasting social identities and to mitigate the negative effects of racial stigma. I illustrate that blacks are embedded in a uniquely American consumer ethos, but that they simultaneously maintain racially-based ideological commitments that are realized through their consumption.


Spring 2018: Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow


 

You are here