This critical ethnographic study of Family Court child maltreatment proceedings describes and illuminates the ways in which racial, gender and class disadvantages can manifest on the ground as judges, attorneys, social service workers, and parents – joined often by gender but split by race and class – adjudicate cases. The findings suggest that intersectionality worked in ways that exponentially marginalized poor mothers of color in the courtroom, both through the rules of the adversarial process, which silenced their voices and through the construction of narratives which emphasized individual weakness over structural obstacles and personal irresponsibility over expressions of maternal care and concern. Standard due process courtroom practices also communicated bias or social exclusion, especially in a courtroom split by race and class.

Continue to the Study

Lens, Vicki, Judging the ‘Other’: The Intersection of Race, Gender and Class in Family Court (March 19, 2018). Lens V. (2019). Judging the “Other”: The Intersection of Race, Gender and Class In Family Court. Family Court Review 57 (1),72-8. , Available at SSRN: