Understanding Race, Racial Stereotypes And Racism In The Workplace

Submitted By TheochariH
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Pages: 12

Understanding race, racial stereotypes and racism in the workplace: Conduct a critical literature review on this topic integrating theory with relevant practical examples.


This literature review is going to explore the notions of race, racism and stereotypes in the workplace. A historical review of studies about races is examined, racism as a concept is going to be defined and analyzed while stereotypes are going to be explained with examples that focus on the workplace. The abolition of discrimination practices are forced by laws but organizations have to support non-discriminative practices in order to incorporate the benefits of diversity.

The study of race originated during the 1920’s by American sociologists and anthropologists through the study of segregation, immigration and race consciousness, the origins of the race prejudice and conflict, the impact of integration of African-Americans and the way through which racial conflicts could be solved. Later on, racism was linked to the rights of Nazis in Germany through the practice of ideas like racial superiority of some racial or ethnic group and inferiority of others. At that time, Ruth Benedict defined racism as “the dogma that one ethnic group is condemned by nature to congenital inferiority and another group is destined to congenital superiority”.

In the post-1945 period, as migrant labor from the ex-colonies and southern Europe emerged and was incorporated in the labor market, it became an important social group and established racial and ethnic minorities in countries like Britain, France, Germany and Holland. (Solomos, Black, 1996) The societies and the migrants faced a contradiction between the need for human (labor) mobility of the economies and the drawing of territorial boundaries. (Legally, the boundaries of human mobility were set with the creation of “citizenship”).

Evidence of cultural diversity with limited interaction, the practice of structural conditions like strict legal intergroup distinctions and occupational segregation, the differential access to prestige and power and the viewing of migrant labor as an underclass (aimed to fulfill stigmatized roles), produced a racial structured social reality. “…minorities were systematically at a disadvantage compared with their white peers… Instead of identifying with working class culture, community and politics, they formed their own organizations and became effectively a separate underprivileged class of themselves…forced into a series of proactive-defensive political strategies” (Solomos, Black, 1996). These strategies were differentiated within Asian and West Indian communities: while Asians tended to concentrate on capital accumulation and social mobility, West Indians withdrew from competition altogether and focused on the construction of a black identity. (Solomos, Black, 1996)

According to Miles, race is a human construct for political and social regulation, “an ideology with regulatory power within society”, aiming like a mask to hide real economic relationships. Miles employed the notion of “racialization” to refer to the instances where human social relations are structured by signifying human biological characteristics in order to define social collectivities”. (Solomos, Black, 1996)

Summarizing the above, it can be concluded that a lot of theoretical and political debates took place over the notion of race, extending even to theorists who argue that “races” as such, do not exist or at least that there is no biological basis for it. (Solomos, Black, 1996), (Jawad Syed, 2012).

According to Oxford Dictionary (2012), the divisions of humankind are related to specific physical characteristics that are distinct to each other (usually color references but also physical features and appearence). These divisions are called races, meaning that people share the same language, culture and history. People around the