Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1999


Floya Anthias (1999) 'Institutional Racism, Power and Accountability'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 4, no. 1, <>

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Received: 23/03/99      Accepted: 23/03/99      Published: 31/3/99


In this article, I will focus on institutional racism and discuss the problems with the idea of 'unwitting racism' found in the report. I will argue that there are a number of conceptual confusions in the report. It is necessary to disassociate the unintentional effects of procedures, from procedures that relate to the exercise of judgements and agency. The pervasiveness of institutional power makes accountability one of the most vital issues raised by the report, which links to the issue of power. In addition, the article argues that it is important to look at the gendered nature of racims and particularly at the role of masculinity.

Accountability; Class; Gender; Institutional Racism; Masculinity; Power


Writing this in Greenwich, near the site of the Stephen Lawrence murder, my children having experienced the effects this had on their school community, makes the whole exercise of writing this contribution particularly poignant for me.

In this article, I will focus on institutional racism and how it links to other forms of racism. The report recommends monitoring racist incidents in schools as well as crimes that are 'racially' motivated. This raises problems concerning how these are to be identified. In my discussion, I will draw attention to the need to address the connections between race and class and race and gender. I will particularly consider the absence in the report of references to power relations and constructions of masculinity since racist murder and violence is typically perpetrated by young men against other young men.

The Macpherson Report has produced a document that identifies what went wrong with the Stephen Lawrence police inquiry and makes a set of recommendations in order to prevent it happening again. In the process, it has taken on board some difficult conceptual, policy and political issues around racism in British society. It seeks to identify the object that needs social correction which first and foremost is seen as institutional racism. This is regarded as pervasive not only within the police force but in other institutions such as the criminal justice and education systems.

Racism and Institutional Racism

The Macpherson report defines racism in the following way:

'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).

In the Report, it is not accepted that racism was 'universally the cause of the failure of the investigation' (¶46.27), nor that all officers are racist. Lack of co-ordinated action, and lack of documentation, are cited in the report as failings in the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry, and are seen as results of a lack of direction rather than related to the racism of the force, institutional or otherwise (Chapter 46). This of course undermines the idea of institutional racism in the report. For example, the insensitivity of treatment of the Lawrence family is seen as unprofessional rather than racially motivated. This raises the issue of what counts as racist practice either from institutions or from individuals. If racism is both outcome as well as intention (a point, I and others have argued extensively eg. Anthias 1990), where is the locus of the outcome to be found? If intentions may also be racist, are they emanating from individuals alone and how do they produce their racist effects? And what if racist intentions do not produce racist outcomes, how are we to know them? Are the latter a product of unwitting racism (not intentional) and if so what is it that makes them unwitting and how do we know if this is the case?

In fact, given the difficulties involved in even beginning to find a methodology for answering any of these questions, it seems sensible to try to think through some of the notions used by the Macpherson Report and I shall begin with the view that an institution may be racist without this necessarily implying that all the individuals within it are knowingly so. This is best expressed in the report's use of the term 'unwitting racism', echoing Lord Scarman's idea of

practices adopted by public bodies as well as private individuals which are unwittingly discriminatory against black people (Scarman Report, 1981: &182;2.22, p11).

The idea of unwitting racism is linked to ideas about unconscious and unintentional racism in the Macpherson report. According to the latter,

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)

The Report goes on to criticise a 'colour blind' approach, because this is not sensitive to the 'needs of the person or people involve'. This collective failure is labelled 'institutional racism'. Quoting Carmichael and Hamilton (1968) that it 'permeates society on both the individual and institutional level, covertly or overtly' it fails, however, to place it in the context of collective social power and domination within which the latter locate it. In the report, the unwitting racism of institutions is a product of individual attitudes, exacerbated by a disinclination to critically self-examine actions. For Carmichael and Hamilton, among others (eg compare Sivanandan 1974), on the other hand, it stems from the structural features of a capitalist society and involves the class domination of whites over blacks and therefore the locus of effectivity is quite different.

Indeed, the Report is keen to point out that it is not the:

'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)

This could be interpreted as exonerating the formal structures of the police force and of society, and of watering down the definition of racism within the police to make it acceptable to all. If all are guilty, then none are guilty; if all individuals are unwittingly racist, then the formal policies are not racist as such: it just happens that way!

The Macpherson Report states:

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).

However, it fails to distinguish between mechanisms that indeed unwittingly exclude and disadvantage groups through criteria which are non-ethnic but where ethnic categories may be over-represented (for example in terms of skills, language, period of residence, life styles etc) and mechanisms that actually specifically and 'wittingly' are applied differently to different groups on the basis of ethnic membership or its perception (this includes 'stop and search' of more black people than white, more arrests etc). In other words, it needs to disassociate the unintentional effects of procedures, from procedures that relate to the exercise of judgements and agency.

Institutional Racism

I now want to take a closer look at the concept of institutionalised racism. In the sociological literature the existence of institutional or structural racism has informed much debate although some influential writers, such as Robert Miles (1989) have rejected it, with the accusation that it entails a conceptual inflation of 'racism'.

This raises the issue of the boundaries and limits of 'racism'. My own work has been criticised for disconnecting 'race' from racism (Mason 1994) and for too closely relating ethnicity with race (Jenkins, 1997), in both cases being accused of a conceptual inflation. This is not the place to answer these criticisms, but to present the view again that ethnicity and racism are discursive, systemic and intersubjective practices and outcomes of social relations which do not emanate exclusively from ethnic or race categories (Anthias 1990, 1992), but are linked to broader social processes such as those of class and gender (see also Anthias and Yuval Davis 1992, Anthias 1998a). I am not concerned with arguing that race categories are not always racist. I am arguing the opposite, that racisms are not limited to those discourses or practices that identify the population that is hailed in terms of race categorisation (ie. in terms of generic stock - see also the work of Balibar 1991). The Macpherson report recognises an affinity between 'race' and ethnicity even if only to acknowledge that the experience of racism is not confined to groups that are regarded as a 'race', although in much of the report there is a sliding back to colour based definitions of the object of racism.

Ideas of race, like those of ethnicity can be seen as embedded in the whole of culture (see Goldberg 1993) in as much as culture includes referents to classifying populations positively, negatively or neutrally. This inevitably means that it will also be embedded in the institutional frameworks of a society. However, this by no means allows us to treat it as monolithic nor to see its path as smooth. For institutions are neither uniform nor monolithic containing diversity within (Bhatti 1995), and there are multiple sites of the operation of racism. Moreover, institutional resources are used by reflexive agents (Giddens 1991).

Goldberg argues that racism is

...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)

Although racisms as forms of discourse come in different guises they are underpinned by a notion of a natural relation between an essence attributed to a human population, whether biological or cultural, and social outcomes that do, will, or should flow from this (Anthias 1998c). It is not possible to seek an exhaustive list of racisms and their empirical identification as though we can discover their essential truths.

With regard to institutional racism, the Report conflates different issues: mechanisms and procedures require correction; there is also the issue of accountability as well as curtailment of powers. The issue of culture or ethos exists on the one hand as a broader issue of ethnic and national absolutism in Britain as a whole, and its challenges, for it never functions systematically nor is it open to rational forms of intervention (Rattansi 1999). It is also a product of specific institutional sites at the national and local level.

The main issue here, it seems to me, is that some of the ways in which racism operates is in terms of taken for granted aspects of ethnic culture more broadly and I would add, in tandem with class based and gender based constructs and identities. If racism is more than a product of race categorisation and can use ethnic categorisation, we do not need to ask which social actions are structured in terms of 'race' (ie. racially motivated). We need to look at outcomes and processes that systematically differentiate on any collective group basis (including gender, age and so on). A racist practice, as well as being one that has explicit racist facets or is ethnocentric can be any practice that produces racist effects, and where ethnic markers correlate with differential treatment. Amongst other factors, this may be a product of:

  1. Procedures which may lead to processes and policies impacting differentially on minority ethnic groups, serving to disadvantage or exclude them. An example may be council house allocation that is based on individuals being on a list for a certain amount of time. If some ethnic groups lack information on the criteria for council house allocation or if they are less likely to stay in an area for the amount of time required, this may produce racist effects (this could discriminate against refugees or migrants particularly).
  2. Failure to provide enabling opportunities where issues of language proficiencies and cultural insider knowledges may be aspects of inclusion. The lack of such opportunities to acquire skills may become the basis for practices that produce racist effects - ie. lead to harassment, discrimination, lack of legal rights, or exclusion from opportunities or allocations.

In practice, as Miles (1989) has pointed out, it is difficult to distinguish between the effects of class inequality, gender inequality and racism (this is one reason why he doesn't like the term 'institutional racism' or the idea of racism as an outcome). Therefore he prefers to see racism as an ideology (Miles 1989). Given this problem, the correctives that are needed and indeed must be implied by the notion of institutional racism (or sexism or ageism etc) should include in tandem all forms of systematic exclusion and differential treatment using any form of collective attribution including those of ethnicity, colour or culture (as indeed recognised by the report), but also gender and class. The differential treatment of women, particularly as it intersects with race, must be attended to. This involves not turning a blind eye to sexist violence and inferiority in the name of upholding the cultural traditions of groups, for example as in the treatment of Asian women and girls by the public services (cases quoted in the activities of Southall Black Sisters, Anthias and Lloyd, forthcoming).

Institutional Power and Accountability

It is power that renders the symbols of inferiorisation effective (Anthias 1992). This is not simply a sophisticated restatement of the argument that racism equals prejudice plus power (as Mason 1994 suggests). The term prejudice locates the issue in subjectivist terms ie. as emanating from individuals. Racist ideas about groups are the products of discursive and material forces and emerge in a field of contestation and negotiation in society. Moreover, individuals do not only occupy subject positions as members of ethnic or 'race' groups but also those of gender, class, dis/ability and so on.

The pervasiveness of institutional power makes accountability one of the most vital issues raised by the Macpherson Report (see Chapter 46). For racism comes not only in the form of violence but works insidiously as is acknowledged by the Macpherson report. However, what is missing is the discussion of power relations. Although there are few, if any, situations in which people are wholly powerless and they are not mere victims, having of course agency, this does not mean that they will be able to counter the power of institutions. Unequal power relations, particularly vis a vis the state (and in the actions of the state, such as the police force), but also in terms of class and gender, produce racist effects even where no explicit racist intentionalities can be identified, as recognised by the Macpherson report. Racism without the means to make it effective is like an invention without a maker.

Now this is not to say that ideas may not have their own dynamic nor that groups who suffer racism cannot hold racist ideas about other groups who are also racialised by the dominant group in the state. For example, Cypriots may have racist ideas about Indians and Indians about Afro Caribbeans and vice-versa. There are contexts in which these can produce racist outcomes as in exclusion from political participation, even within anti racist or socialist groups. Power is not locatable within individual 'whites' although in certain circumstances members of class subordinate groups within the dominant ethnic group may be perpetrators of violence (as appears to be the case in the Stephen Lawrence murder). Working class 'white' children who may be designated as belonging to an 'underclass', may harass and terrify middle class Asians; Asian shopkeepers suffer racist attacks at the hands of white unemployed youth, for example. The power of racist ideas, in this case ideas that do not emanate from solitary individuals but penetrate the hegemonic dominant ethnicity in British society, will be embodied in the words and actions of different individuals, in different ways in different contexts. The issue of power is not one about a power that is exercised by all 'whites' over all 'blacks' but is about the power of the dominant group represented in the state to reproduce its own values and practices on its own terms, despite the discontinuous and shifting nature of the processes.

Power is institutionalised and exists in the very fabric of common sense taken-for-granted understandings of a society. Knowledge and access is a form of power. Underclass 'white' youths, as individuals, will have neither access to jobs or positions of power. Indeed they are excluded from access to these, through their position in class relations and through class and gender discourses about competencies in a society in the throes of economic recession and cultural crisis. The violence may indeed be symbolic of the very little power they still have and the concern with territory (Cohen 1988, Bauman 1991) may be a mode of contesting the threat to their own ethnicity. Working class white youth may redefine themselves as an ethnic English collective claiming a greater share of the scarce resources of the working class urban areas they inhabit. The collapse of employment structures and other infrastructures for young men may be part of the reason for some of the symbolic and other violence (the defiling of the Stephen Lawrence memorial for example mirrors the desecration of Jewish graves and attacks on mosques).

There is also the issue of masculinity here, since the perpetrators of racial attacks are young men attacking other young men. Racial violence functions within a racialised space where the importance of the masculinist culture of the school playground can be transported to claims over territory outside the school, a point noted by the Macdonald enquiry (1989) into the murder of an Asian pupil at Burnage High School in Manchester. Racialised relations are complex (Back 1996) and there may be a link between racialised violence and male bonding (Rattansi 1999).

Moreover, there is an ambivalence about racism, found for example in the emulation of black popular culture, particularly music. Racist name calling may be used as a taunt between friends and may function psychically as a means of bonding as well as be part of a negotiation of identities and testing grounds for those friendships. Available interpretative repertoires inevitably are drawn upon in inter-'racial' and inter-ethnic relations and friendships and thereby their meaning may be fluid and transformed. Within this, issues of class and gender are central components of power relations. But the existence of multiple identities does not mean that individuals do not have different investments in different identities at different times. As I have argued elsewhere, they are :

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).

The existence of hybridity or liminality (eg. Bhabha 1994) cannot presuppose that these identities will be able to transcend racism and ethnic absolutism, for they do not have any necessary political effects, despite the claims that have been made about their transformatory or transgressive potential (for a critique see Anthias 1998b).

Racisms and Racialization

According to the Macpherson Report, a racist incident 'is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person'. This raises the issue of intentionality, rather than effects, which is much more difficult to legislate on. For if a traffic warden fines me because I have parked momentarily on a double yellow line, I may perceive this to be racist. If an employer does not short-list me for a job, I may perceive this to be racist (or sexist), or if I am fined for speeding, I may perceive this to be racist. The question here also relates to 'whose intention'? Is it a question of the intention say of individual police officers, or the intention (often unarticulated) of state policies, practices or capital? Do only individuals have intentions?

The quid pro quo is that I may get a job but not think it is racist (if I am white middle class male say), or indeed I may be black and not get short-listed, and still not think it racist. One individual may think an action is racist, and another think it is not. It seems to me, that surely at the individual level it is much more important to have accountability, rather than try to define an incident as racist on the basis of the intentionality of individual police officers, as perceived by victims. It is of course vital to take seriously and pay full attention to the accounts of victims and observers at the scene of a crime (which was a catastrophic failure in the Stephen Lawrence case). However, it is not possible to rely fully on the perception and articulation of individuals; clear procedures accompanied by rules of accountability in relation to any form of differential treatment of social categories are required. This asks us to fully scrutinise procedures and practices, rather than to depend on the perception of, and claims of, victims thereby putting the onus on them.

This does not mean that individual racism should not be corrected; the issue is the method by which this can be effective. There has been much discussion about the non-rational nature of much racism which does not make it open to rationalist forms of correction implied by the notion of 'race awareness'. More radical attention to racial hierarchies and their psycho-social mechanisms are required as well as more attention being given to forms of equalisation and active democratisation, neither of which are mentioned by the report.

I argued above that there is a large range of repertoires from which racism can draw, which includes those of ethnicity. One of the issues raised by the Macpherson report relates to the use of racist language or the expression of race hatred. This highlights the tension between the rights of individuals to free speech and the rights of others to be free from verbal abuse. The attempt to take into account the motivations behind incidents may be linked to the importance of the public display of abhorrence and the law as a moral instrument (as found for example in the work of Durkheim). In Britain, racist language is illegal if it relates to action ie if it is an incitement to action or where verbal threats are used (in Public Order Act section 4 and 5 'threaten, provoke or generate fear of violence'). This raises again the issue of how racist motivation is to be identified. If there is no racial abuse does this mean that an action is not racially motivated? If a black person is involved should the assumption always be that it is racially motivated? This raises both the issue of the nature of evidence for judging racist motivation, and the question of the means of attaining it (illustrated well by the video of the 5 white youths accused in the Stephen Lawrence murder). The issue of racially motivated crimes leads to problems of identifying when and how that motivation can be ascertained.

The implication of the above discussion is that racism is opportunistic, it is relational to other social processes, and it is therefore a fluid and shifting phenomenon which evades clear and absolute definition in a once and for all type of way. Indeed within the post-modern frame that Ali Rattansi so helpfully discusses (Rattansi 1994), it is no longer possible to try and talk about racisms without paying attention to these issues.

According to the Report 'racism'... advantage(s) or disadvantage(s) people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin (¶6.4). With this definition, the report rightly rejects the use of the category black for the discussion of racism. The positing of ethnic origin raises the issue of the targets of racism being diverse, but what is signalled is that they are all diverse 'others' and the white English do not possess cultural diversity. But more importantly, there is very little discussion of the economic, political or ideological conditions within which racism operates as a sphere of social relations.

The constructed, rather than essential or fixed nature of the boundaries, of 'colour', culture and ethnicity needs to be incorporated into any such focus. Different markers may be used to define the boundaries. This is raised, for example, by the debate on the category Black, and the shift from seeing it as incorporating both Asians and Afro-Caribbeans, to seeing it as describing only Afro-Caribbeans (eg Modood 1988, Anthias and Yuval Davis 1992, Anthias 1994, Brah 1991). A group may be defined, at different times, in terms of culture, place of origin or religion. For example Jews may be seen as a cultural group, as a diaspora with a reclaimed homeland (Israel), or as a religious community. Greek Cypriots may be seen as either Cypriot or Greek. These are labels, as well as claims, that are mobilised in the assertion, contestation and negotiation over resource allocation, social positioning and political identity.

There are three related aspects raised by the issue of boundaries: the shifting and contextual nature of the boundaries; the processes which give rise to particular symbolic and material manifestations of social categories; and the ways in which different social categories intersect in producing social outcomes for individuals and for social structures. Therefore, class, gender and ethnicity/race cannot be seen as constructing permanent fixed groups but involve shifting constellations of social actors, depending on the ways the boundaries of a denoted category are constructed. Furthermore, in terms of social relations that are hierarchical, it is not purely a question of a hierarchy of individuals within a category, for there are complex forms of hierarchy across a range of different dimensions. If the constructs are read as 'grids', their salience will not only vary in different contexts, but the interplay of the different grids needs to be always considered in any analysis of social outcomes or effects (Anthias 1998a).

Different ethnic groups experience racism differently - it has different outcomes depending on class location, political position, forms of regulation and control exercised by the state, forms of citizenship and so on, and not just in terms of different ethnicities, as some have argued (eg Modood 1996). Much discussion has in fact focused on the different markers that are deployed in racist discourse, for example whether it is colour or whether it is culture (say Islamic religion and identity). Issues around a broader conceptualisation of exclusion and inclusion, as well as differential social and economic access to resources become blurred, however, by questions about who is the population that most experiences racism rather than what are the processes by which this happens (Anthias 1998c).

It is clear from the earlier discussion that the issue is more complex than this. This is because in order to understand racism (as opposed to sorting out empirically who are its targets at any particular point of time), it is important to focus on processes, structures and outcomes: both through looking at changing configurations of ideas about fear, threat, otherness, undesirability and how groups who are targeted may be responding to these challenges. However, since the matter of exclusion and inclusion spans a number of important parameters of differentiation and stratification, including class and gender, the analysis of ethnic and race processes must be undertaken with reference to the other major dimensions: in any case the human subjects that both promote and experience these relationships within a range of institutional organisational and intersubjective contexts may be conceptualised in terms of the range of categories and exclusionary outcomes. I want to particularly look at the issue of class below.

Race and Class

The differential effects of racialisation vis a vis economic disadvantage and racial violence and prejudice as well as identity are by now well known. For example, different groups manifest different trends in employment and self-employment, with the differences within minorities as great, if not greater, than those between minorities and non minorities (Modood et al 1997). Some groups have a higher socio-economic profile than 'whites', and some are systematically under-represented in the higher social categories. Despite this diversity, some categories of minority ethnic groups suffer particular disadvantages economically. Racist social relations have in fact been used to explain material positionality within employment relations (Rex 1986, Miles 1989).

Attempts to examine the relationship between ethnicity/race and class has led, at times, to forms of reductionism. In some accounts, ethnicity is treated as a disguise for class or its symbolic manifestation; Marxist approaches may treat it as false consciousness, where the real divisions of class take on symbolic forms. Ethnicity may also be seen as a form of class mobilisation (not as a disguise but as a vehicle), and instrumental in struggles over economic resources, as in the work of writers such as Hechter (1987). This is less reductionist, but again ethnicity is treated as a dependent phenomenon, whereas class is treated as about 'real' resource claims.

Alternatively, twinning ethnicity/race and class may focus on the correlations between the actors who occupy particular ethnic positions, and those in particular class positions. This is to focus on how actors within each coincide on scales relating to social position. As an example, black groups who suffer racial disadvantage are then seen to occupy a particular class position, or class fraction (Phizacklea and Miles 1980), in the Marxist variant of this approach, or are a sub-proletariat within the Weberian approach (Rex 1986). Another facet of this is to treat one as an effect of the other, in terms of the influence of the valuation (and prejudice/racism/discrimination) that accrues to particular ethnic positions, and how this is manifested in terms of class effects or outcomes. Or it can be done in terms of the mutually reinforcing disadvantages of ethnicity and class (Myrdal 1969).

Many of these attempts are problematic (Solomos 1986, Anthias 1990). One underlying difficulty is that whilst the delineation of connections, correlations and so on between ethnicity/race and class are useful, as long as there is a clear operationalisation of the terms in substantive analyses, it is much more difficult to specify the mechanisms at work. Moreover, the attempts to find correlations assumes each one is homogeneously constituted, has a unitary role and is mutually exclusive eg that all class members belong to a particular ethnic group. The depiction of Black people as an underclass (Castles and Kosack 1973) or as a class fraction (Phizacklea and Miles 1980), for example, underemphasises the heterogeneity given by the distinct employment characteristics of different 'racialised' groups (eg. Asians, Afro-Caribbeans and other colonial migrants in Britain). It also takes no account of gender differentiation. The concern to show the class bases of 'race' leads to glossing over the differences and divisions within racialised groups.

Many of the difficulties of these forms of analysis relate to a dominant trend whereby class is treated as a division marked by material difference, and inequality of positioning around material resources, whether conceived in the area of production or distribution, determined by relations of exploitation or by relations of the market. Ethnicity, on the other hand, is treated as relating to being positioned in terms of culture, or in the symbolic and identificational realm, with particular behavioral or action elements flowing from this. However, it could be argued that material value is not only produced within the sphere of production, the labour market and the economy, but is generated in relation to symbolic and cultural processes. Moreover, 'race' and ethnicity involve the allocation of hierarchies of value, inferiorisation as well as unequal resource allocation (on their basis and not through the intermediate relation of production relations) (Anthias 1998a).

In terms of contemporary Britain, the disenfranchisement of large numbers of young people, particularly from the black and white working classes, through permanent unemployment in inner city spaces which are racialised and classed, requires a much greater emphasis on economic and political processes, than the Macpherson Report has been able to deliver.

Concluding Remarks

Racisms are forms of subordination and exclusion and work in tandem with class related and gender related forms of subordination and exclusion although they differ from them (Anthias and Yuval Davis 1992, Anthias 1998a). They entail subject positions, intersubjectivities, discourses, practices and outcomes. Racism and cultural difference have a different salience and outcome in relation to wider social forces. This need not lead to the minimisation of fighting against racist harassment or promoting cultural diversity: quite the opposite. Some of the implications of working on one level, such as racist harassment need to be considered in terms of working on other levels such as sexism, however. We might take the opportunity, with this debate on the nature of racism and the analysis and recommendations of the Macpherson Report, to treat racism and struggle against it within a broader ideological and political framework and as a catalyst for thinking about social democratisation, equality and citizenship.


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