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Self-Declared Skin Color in Contemporary Brazil: A Chromatic Mobility Model

Abstract : It is well established in litterature that popular saying "money whitens" is a strong mechanism of skin color self-declarations in Brazil. It was indeed observed comparing self-declarations and declarations by a third – mainly the interviewer – that the higher the educational level, the lighter the declaration by respondents. The same link was assessed for wages and income. These researches do not include a full analysis of darkening and chromatic immobility. Admittedly darkening is sometimes mentioned, but it is rather a strict counterpart of lightening than a choice for itself: if "money whitens", "poverty darkens". But contemporary evolutions of representations in brazilian society lead notably to a valorization of darkening. In this paper, I construct a chromatic mobility model to analyse lightening, darkening and chromatic immobility together. In this model, the mobility is realized by the respondent in relation to the perception of a third. Each individual realizes a trade-off to maximizes its satisfaction. This trade-off calls together personal identity and social identity. The empirical application of this chromatic mobility model relies on original data collected during a field research conducting in São Paulo (november 2006 – august 2007). I conclude that the link between chromatic mobility and educationnal level has to be nuanced. Indeed, it exists a threshold above which darkening is prefered to lightening. I although underline variables which are linked to chromatic immobility.
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Contributor : Stéphanie Cassilde <>
Submitted on : Friday, August 11, 2017 - 3:07:28 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 12:10:03 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01574065, version 1



Stéphanie Cassilde. Self-Declared Skin Color in Contemporary Brazil: A Chromatic Mobility Model. XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology - Sociology on the Move, International Sociological Association, Jul 2010, Göterborg, Sweden. ⟨halshs-01574065⟩



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