Quantifying intersectionality: An important advancement for health inequality research

from Social Science & Medicine at http://bit.ly/2CUtHvN on January 31, 2019 at 10:06AM

Publication date: Available online 30 January 2019

Source: Social Science & Medicine

Author(s): Laura S. Richman, Alyssa Zucker


Intersectionality is a powerful theoretical framework that is useful in describing the lived experiences of people with multiple marginalized statuses. By focusing on power and domination (e.g., racism, sexism), and the ways in which they are inextricably linked and mutually constructing, researchers can better understand experiences of all people, not just those with one or more master statuses. This framework is valuable in understanding how discrimination relates to health and in attempts to reduce health disparities.


Population health researchers have only recently begun to consider intersectionality in their theories and measurement (Bowleg, 2012), and have been hindered by the challenges of measuring and analyzing experiences of discrimination in intersectional ways. We need new methodological strategies to enable empirical research to catch up with theoretical advances.


The pair of articles in this issue by Scheim and Bauer (2019), and Bauer and Scheim (2019), offer important new data collection instruments and data analytic strategies to advance our ability to measure discrimination intersectionally. When using these new tools, it is important to not lose track of the origins and historical underpinnings of intersectionality and to focus on the transformative goal of intersectionality to eradicate inequality.