The relevance of race for analyzing and combating social exclusion and stratification worldwide has been a subject of heated controversy. In An Ugly Word. Rethinking Race in Italy and the United States, Ann Morning and Marcello Maneri propose a framework for analyzing concepts of descent-based difference in comparative perspective that provides more flexible, detailed and precise measures of such beliefs than "race" or "ethnicity" offer. The authors do so building on interviews with young people in an aspiring "color-blind" Italy and a United States that has been called "race-obsessed".
Scholars and politicians often assume a significant gap between the ways that Americans and Europeans think about race. According to this template, in the U.S. race is associated with physical characteristics, while in Western Europe race has disappeared, and discrimination is based on insurmountable cultural differences. However, little research has addressed how average Americans and Europeans actually think and talk about race. In An Ugly Word, sociologists Ann Morning and Marcello Maneri examine American and Italian understandings of group difference in order to determine if and how they may differ.
An Ugly Word is an illuminating, cross-national examination of the ways in which people around the world make sense of race and difference.