Overcoming racism

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The term “racism” includes theories, attitudes, and practices that display a dislike or antagonism towards other peoples or persons because of some characteristics – be they biological, socio- economic and/ or ethnic – that supposedly mark them as inferior. Since it has no foundation in biology or any other science (Taguieff 1997), racism is a social dysfunction characterized by an inability to see others as members of the same human family and collective social body. Underneath racism, often lie beliefs that humans can be hierarchically grouped (based on the “purity” principle), authoritarianism and supremacism (Adorno 1950). After a short historical introduction (racism was born in modern Europe alongside the colonization flows), a non- racist (or anti- racist) approach is explored, which considers the main social factors explaining racism (sex, age, generation, social status, ethnic background, education level, urban environment, and political culture). Racism goes together with ethnic prejudice, xenophobia, and discrimination – as different ways to reinforce the social distance between “us” and “them” on an ethnic basis; and almost always there is a link between racism, conflict, and violence. To understand racism the reader should distinguish between the cognitive, affective, and practical levels. With reference to the European context, the old forms of racism have given way to new forms: After the disgrace of the Shoah, in many multicultural Member States race relations (Banton 1967) still live in terms of opposition and hierarchy between natives and immigrants, through stigmatization, media discourses, or hate speech (Modood, Werbner 1987). According to the sociological perspective, the concept of “institutional racism” (Wieviorka 1998) and the media construction of racism (Van Dijk 1987) display how racism can be detected in educational settings, social services, and health care. The second part of the chapter deals with anti- racism in Europe and its development (Ruzza 2000). As the main EU institutions and agencies recommend, many strategies could be put in place to combat racism, in terms of complaint, condemnation, and prevention (de Torres Barderi, 2018). To foster the probability of intercultural dialogue, the strategy should address people and situations that are able to play a “fireback” role when discriminatory actions, antagonist attitudes, and hate speech occur, by affecting the three levels of racism (Eckman, Davolio 2002).
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteIntercultural Issues and Concepts. A Multi-Disciplinary Glossary
EditorGilardoni Guia Colombo Maddalena
Numero di pagine18
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021


  • Antiracist movement
  • Deconstructing strategy
  • European Monitoring of racism
  • Institutional and Cultural Racism
  • Race
  • sociology of inter-ethnic relations


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