With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies? Benevolent- and Microdiscrimination in Everyday Contexts

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In this article, I discuss structural discrimination, an underrepresented area of study in Danish discrimination and intercultural research. I define it here as discursive and hegemonic. Structural discrimination is presented as an analytical approach with which to understand and identify aspects of power and asymmetry in communication and interactions. Using this approach, 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.
Translated title of the contributionMed disse venner, behøves ingen fjender: Strukturel Diskrimination og gode intentioner i hverdagen
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event23nd Nordic Intercultural Communication Conference - Bergen, Norway
Duration: 24 Nov 201626 Nov 2016


Conference23nd Nordic Intercultural Communication Conference
Internet address


  • discrimination
  • microdiscrimination
  • benevolent discrimination
  • racism

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