Jaywalking Through Intersectionalities


  • Gerald A. J. de Montigny Carleton University School of Social Work


intersectionality, identity, politics, Marxist, ethnography


Social workers, especially those who call for anti-oppressive practice, have embraced and promoted an analysis of intersectionality or the interlocking of oppression. These proponents view their work as critical, postmodern, self-reflective, reflexive, and progressive. Their focal concern is with the interaction of identity categories. This paper sets out an alternative way of working and making sense. I am not interested in the noisy traffic of categories or even identities. Intersectionality is a signal light on an imaginary street. Instead, I insist social workers must be pedestrians and pedestrian. We need to recognize and navigate the ground and pathways of ordinary and daily life. Our focus needs to be on just how, in and through an unbroken flow of movement, we produce and reproduce recognizably and putatively iterative forms of action and the knowledge linked to action. We ask: How do our every-day/every-night activities give rise to, contradict, fulfill, or fail an unfolding landscape of idealities and recognitions of identities. Social workers need a return to the social as practically accomplished and as realized day in, day out. Through an ethnomethodology of practice we return to social interactions and social relations, presence and absence, local and extra-local through which we collectively produce, not once and for all, but as emerging, developing, changing, transforming, the signals and signs of our identities.

Author Biography

Gerald A. J. de Montigny, Carleton University School of Social Work

Associate Professor,

School of Social Work