Race in the Making
In Race in the Making, Hirschfeld argues that knowledge of race is not derived from observations of physical difference, nor does it develop in the same way as knowledge of other social categories. Instead, his central claim is that racial thinking is the product of a special-purpose cognitive competence for understanding and representing human kinds. He also challenges the conventional wisdom that race is purely a social construction by demonstrating that a common set of abstract principles underlies all systems of racial thinking, whatever other historical and cultural specificities may be associated with them.
After surveying the literature on the development of a cultural psychology of race, Hirschfeld presents original studies that examine children's (and occasionally adults') representations of race. He sketches how a jointly cultural and psychological approach to race might proceed, showing how this approach yields new insights into the emergence and elaboration of racial thinking.