Structural Discrimination: A hidden challenge within diversity, difference, and inclusion frameworks

Bidragets oversatte titel: Strukturel Diskrimination: Skjulte udfordringer indenfor mangfoldigheds og inklusionsarbejde

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review

Resumé

Understanding how discrimination occurs explicitly and implicitly is of focal importance to understanding social exclusion and inclusion, as well as notions of diversity and difference. This paper addresses structural discrimination and microdiscrimination and how these concepts can be of use with regard to organizational frameworks seeking to address structural and social inequality.

Structural discrimination, an underrepresented area of study in Danish discrimination research, is defined as discursive and hegemonic and does not infer classic structuralist perspectives. The paper presents structural discrimination as an analytical approach with which to understand, identify and address different types of discrimination and exclusion otherwise indiscernible within widely accepted norms. Further, it argues that this approach provides a way to identify and acknowledge subtle and underlying discrimination which falls outside everyday understandings of discrimination and racism.

The paper is mainly theoretical and looks at how terms and paradigms connected to these concepts may facilitate inadvertent collusion or complicity with discriminatory practices. Further, the paper identifies Danish discrimination challenges and ways that discrimination is normalized and expressed in Danish contexts.

While terms like diversity, difference, social exclusion and inclusion may, at first glance, appear to address the same issues, they are often catchall phrases for dealing with fairly broad notions of inequality in organizational contexts. They can be linked to, but are not necessarily explicitly framed around, discrimination. Further, while these agendas are linked to discrimination and equality, they often refer more to processes of implementation or institutionalization of practices and initiatives to redress inequality (Ahmed). In this paper, my focus is discrimination. That is, I look at what discrimination is, how it is expressed in Danish contexts, and some of the challenges this presents.
The types of discrimination in focus here are often subtle, overlooked or difficult to identify, yet recognizing and addressing them can contribute in a number of ways to diversity work. The main focus is on structural- and microdiscrimination as well as benevolent discrimination, all of which are underrepresented within Danish research on discrimination. I suggest that the inclusion of a broader, more abstract and historically embedded understanding of structural discrimination can supplement the paradigms currently in use to further qualify discussions on the impact and influence of material, discriminatory practices which diversity and inclusion work often seeks to redress. In addition, I argue for more precise application of the terms racism, racial discrimination and discrimination when working within diversity and difference frameworks. My position is that the common practice of conflating these terms, or using them synonymously as many do today, contributes to mechanisms of denial and erasure of discrimination in the everyday experiences of Danes (and others) of color. As such, mechanisms of this kind present a challenge when trying to address equality, discrimination and inclusion. In this paper I elaborate on the meanings of several types of discrimination.
One goal of the paper is to present the notion of structural discrimination as a tool for working with difference and diversity. Structural discrimination refers to discursive, normative (and normalizing) discrimination. It is an abstract and hegemonic notion that informs other, more explicit forms and expressions of discrimination. I present structural discrimination as an analytical framework that contributes to more precise and accessible understandings of the many layers and nuances that arise when navigating within the complex and muddied waters of discrimination, inclusion and much of that which lies between. In connection with this, I address the notion of microdiscrimination which frames some of the more subtle ways in which structural discrimination is expressed in interactions and language.

Secondly, I unfold a notion of benevolent discrimination. Benevolent discrimination describes a form of discrimination that resides within positive and well-meaning gestures, yet belies a patriarchal, charitable relational dynamic that rests on problematic and powered assumptions about difference (Spivak). I address and discuss these in terms of the specific discrimination grounds within the international human rights framework. In connection with this I address some challenges connected to using racial discrimination, discrimination and racism within diversity, difference, and inclusion frameworks. I argue that careful consideration of how terminology is may be of use in addressing and enabling equality measures within diversity and difference work.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Publikationsdato2016
StatusUdgivet - 2016
BegivenhedLeadership, Diversity and Inclusion : Conference CBS - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Danmark
Varighed: 26 maj 201627 maj 2016

Konference

KonferenceLeadership, Diversity and Inclusion
LokationCopenhagen Business School
LandDanmark
ByFrederiksberg
Periode26/05/201627/05/2016

Fingerprint

discrimination
inclusion
racism
exclusion
hate
communication
asymmetry
migration
interaction

Emneord

  • Structural discrimination, racial discrimination, racism, microdiscrimination, intent
  • benevolent discrimination

Citer dette

Thorsen, M. S. (2016). Structural Discrimination: A hidden challenge within diversity, difference, and inclusion frameworks. Abstract fra Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion , Frederiksberg, Danmark.
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Thorsen, MS 2016, 'Structural Discrimination: A hidden challenge within diversity, difference, and inclusion frameworks' Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion , Frederiksberg, Danmark, 26/05/2016 - 27/05/2016, .

Structural Discrimination : A hidden challenge within diversity, difference, and inclusion frameworks. / Thorsen, Mira Skadegård.

2016. Abstract fra Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion , Frederiksberg, Danmark.

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review

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N2 - In this article, I discuss structural discrimination, an underrepresented area of study in Danish discrimination and intercultural research. It is defined here as discursive and constitutive, and presented as a central element of my analytical approach. This notion is employed in the with which to understand and identify aspects of power and asymmetry in communication and interactions. With this as a defining term, I address how exclusion and discrimination exist, while also being indiscernible, within widely accepted societal norms. I introduce the concepts of microdiscrimination and benevolent discrimination as two ways of articulating particular, opaque forms of racial discrimination that occur in everyday Danish (and other) contexts, and have therefore become normalized. I present and discuss discrimination as it surfaces in data from my empirical studies of discrimination in Danish contexts. These studies underscore how everyday assumptions and norms contribute to inadvertent discriminatory communication and practices in particular ways. The article, in introducing the terms microdiscrimination and benevolent discrimination, identifies and addresses attitudes and behaviors that fall outside the purview of everyday understandings of discrimination and racism, yet produce and uphold discrimination, hate and exclusions. It is my hope that these terms can be of use with regard to addressing and reducing contemporary intercultural, migration and discrimination challenges.

AB - In this article, I discuss structural discrimination, an underrepresented area of study in Danish discrimination and intercultural research. It is defined here as discursive and constitutive, and presented as a central element of my analytical approach. This notion is employed in the with which to understand and identify aspects of power and asymmetry in communication and interactions. With this as a defining term, I address how exclusion and discrimination exist, while also being indiscernible, within widely accepted societal norms. I introduce the concepts of microdiscrimination and benevolent discrimination as two ways of articulating particular, opaque forms of racial discrimination that occur in everyday Danish (and other) contexts, and have therefore become normalized. I present and discuss discrimination as it surfaces in data from my empirical studies of discrimination in Danish contexts. These studies underscore how everyday assumptions and norms contribute to inadvertent discriminatory communication and practices in particular ways. The article, in introducing the terms microdiscrimination and benevolent discrimination, identifies and addresses attitudes and behaviors that fall outside the purview of everyday understandings of discrimination and racism, yet produce and uphold discrimination, hate and exclusions. It is my hope that these terms can be of use with regard to addressing and reducing contemporary intercultural, migration and discrimination challenges.

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Thorsen MS. Structural Discrimination: A hidden challenge within diversity, difference, and inclusion frameworks. 2016. Abstract fra Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion , Frederiksberg, Danmark.