Floya Anthias (1999) 'Institutional Racism, Power and Accountability'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 4, no. 1, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/4/lawrence//anthias.html>
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Received: 23/03/99 Accepted: 23/03/99 Published: 31/3/99
'racism' in general terms consists of conduct or words or practices which advantage or disadvantage people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. In its more subtle form it is as damaging as in its overt form (¶6.4)
'Institutional Racism' consists of the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people (¶6.34).
practices adopted by public bodies as well as private individuals which are unwittingly discriminatory against black people (Scarman Report, 1981: &182;2.22, p11).
Unwitting racism can arise because of lack of understanding, ignorance or mistaken beliefs. It can arise from well intentioned but patronising words or actions. It can arise from unfamiliarity with the behaviour or cultural traditions of people or families from minority ethnic communities. It can arise from racist stereotyping of black people as potential criminals or troublemakers. Often this arises out of uncritical self-understanding born out of an inflexible police ethos of the 'traditional' way of doing things. Furthermore such attitudes can thrive in a tightly knit community, so that there can be a collective failure to detect and to outlaw this breed of racism. The police canteen can too easily be its breeding ground (¶6.17)
'policies of the police force that are racist: it is rather the implementation of policies and.... in the words and actions of officers acting together' (¶6.24)
it is incumbent upon every institution to examine their policies and the outcome of their policies and practices to guard against disadvantaging any section of their communities (¶46.27).
...a fluid, transforming, historically specific concept parasitic on theoretic and social discourses for the meaning it assumes at any historical moment. (Goldberg 1993: p. 74)
Not like cloaks that we can don and then discard but like different layers that can be worn, some on top and some below at different times (Anthias 1998a: p. 507).
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