The term, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, describes the overlapping and intersecting social identities that often affect and inform how we move around society. Often these identities are related to systems of oppression, domination and discrimination. Intersecting identities are not mutually exclusive, but rather work together to construct how one is perceived in society. The framework proposes that these identities need to be considered simultaneously and that they reflect an overarching analysis of power hierarchies present within identities (Cooper, 2015).
Social work emphasizes the need for capturing the complexity that exists among the interrelatedness of social systems. The intersectional perspective acknowledges the breadth of human experiences, rather than conceptualizing social relations and identities separately in terms of race, class, gender or sexuality (from Incorporating Intersectionality in Social Work Practice, Research, Policy, and Education by Yvette Murphy, Valerie Hunt, Anna M. Zajicek, Adele N. Norris, Leah Hamilton, 2009).