Perceived discrimination across institutional fields: Racial minorities in the United Kingdom

Rahsaan Maxwell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Existing research has developed a wide range of evidence about predictors of perceived discrimination among minorities, but often generates conflicting evidence across studies. I claim this may be due to the measurement strategy. Existing research often uses cross-sectional surveys that ask minorities about their experiences with discrimination, but these questions cannot determine whether subjects with higher levels of perceived discrimination are more likely to experience discrimination or are just more likely to interpret events through the lens of discrimination. In this article, I propose a new strategy designed to measure when minorities use discrimination as a heuristic for understanding society. I use an original online survey of non-Whites in the United Kingdom and provide vignettes that describe racial inequality in education, employment, politics, the arts, and business. I then ask respondents how they would explain each form of inequality. This ensures that all minority respondents are reacting to the same stimulus. In addition to the new measurement strategy, I make a theoretical contribution to the standard analysis of variation across minority individuals by emphasizing variation in perceived discrimination across institutional fields. This approach has implications for debates about racial minorities in the United Kingdom and perceived discrimination in general.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)342-353
    Number of pages12
    JournalEuropean Sociological Review
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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