Difference Matters: Communicating Social Identity by Brenda J. Allen
272 pages, $37.95 list
Instructor resource materials available here
eBook availability
Difference Matters
Communicating Social Identity
Third Edition
This captivating book analyzes six salient categories of social identity (gender, race, social class, disability, sexuality, and age) and why difference within and between those categories matter. Brenda J. Allen provides overviews of sociohistorical developments and their impact on how people perceive and treat one another. She explains how communication constitutes social identity and explores relationships among social identity, discourse, and power dynamics.

Allen’s book has motivated thousands of individuals in university classes/programs and a variety of other organizations. She offers life-changing guidance in harnessing the potential of diverse perspectives—whether to improve interpersonal relationships and workplace communication or to build a more just society. Difference Matters: Communicating Social Identity invites and induces readers to value and appreciate difference. Allen covers complex and sensitive topics with an ease that inspires others to approach potentially threatening situations with an open mind and heart. Her frank discussions of the effects of dominant belief systems on her own behaviors encourage and reassure the audience to engage in self-reflection.

Difference matters to everyone. Establishing meaningful dialogue begins with curiosity about differing perspectives, empathy for others, and cultural humility. Allen addresses the uncertainty and anxiety too often connected with difference, advises mindfulness to reveal the hidden associations connected with stereotypes, and urges proactivity to challenge and change mainstream meanings of difference. She also provides tools and techniques to help readers apply lessons learned.
"The new edition of Difference Matters is everything I hoped for. It incorporates important updates and theories including, but not limited to, content about microaggressions and intersectionality. I love the new 'pause and ponder' thought exercises designed to facilitate critical thinking about issues of diversity and equity. I can't wait to teach from the new edition of Difference Matters in my organizational communication classes." — Angela Gist-Mackey, University of Kansas

"This is one of the most concise and understandable texts I have read. I appreciate how inexpensive it is for my students. I will certainly adopt it." — Sambo Srauy, Oakland University

"There is no other text like this—it addresses the intersection of identity and power in a way no other text comes close to." — Kelsey Denton, Green River Community College

"This is a splendid book. Difference Matters provides instructors who care about difference matters with an excellent "road map" of how to teach them. Bravo!" — Julia T. Wood, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"Last semester my students challenged me to find a book that speaks to them—they are a diverse group and Difference Matters certainly speaks to them." — Margarita Olivas, California State University, Northridge
Table of Contents
1. Difference and Other Important Matters
2. Power Matters
3. Gender Matters
4. Race Matters
5. Social Class Matters
6. Sexuality Matters
7. Disability Matters
8. Age Matters
9. Communicating Social Identity