how things get done – Patricia Hill Collins

I used a distinctive methodology in preparing this manuscript which illustrates how thought and action can work together in generating theory. Much of my formal academic training has been designed to show me that I must alienate myself from my communities, my family, and even my own self in order to produce credible intellectual work. Instead of viewing the everyday as a negative influence on my theorizing, I tried to see how the everyday actions and ideas of the Black women in my life reflected the theoretical issues I claimed were so important to them. Lacking grants, fellowships, release time, or other benefits that allow scholars to remove themselves from everyday life and contemplate its contours and meaning, I wrote this book while fully immersed in ordinary activities that brought me into contact with a variety of African-American women. Through caring for my daughter, mentoring Black women undergraduates, assisting a Brownie troop, and engaging in other “unscholarly” activities, I reassessed my relationships with a range of African-American women and their relationships with one another. Theory allowed me to see all of these associations with fresh eyes, while concrete experiences challenged the worldviews offered by theory. During this period of self-reflection, work on this manuscript inched along, and I produced little “theory.” But without this involvement in the everyday, the theory in this volume would have been greatly impoverished.