ГО ПОДДРЖУВАМ НАРОДНИОТ ПРАВОБРАНИТЕЛ ВО БАРАЊЕТО НА ДЕСЕГРЕГИРАНИ ПОДАТОЦИ ЗА ВРАБОТЕНИТЕ НА ДРЖАВНИТЕ УНИВЕРЗИТЕТИ ВРЗ ОСНОВА НА ЕТНИЧКА ПРИПАДНОСТ
Во врска со настапот на дел од професорите на државните универзитети, јас се изјаснувам во прилог на акцијата на Народниот правобранител.
Во прилог е мојот текст за структурната дискриминација со кој настапив на годишната средба на меѓудржавната група за Дурбан во ООН. Во текстот има дел и за употребата на статистиката во борбата со структурната дискриминација.
Понатаму ќе следи и посебна анализа на прашањето (на македонски). Ова како почеток (за оние кои знаат англиски).
STRUCTURAL DISCRIMINATION -DEFINITIONS, APPROACHES AND TRENDS
Discrimination started with slavery. With the absolute deprivation of the right to be considered a human being. Such deprivation excluded groups of people from the human family and from everything connected with making one’s own decisions because of belonging to a specific race, religion, sex, etc.
Discrimination is not about slavery, but it is still about deprivation of basic rights and about different treatment of human beings because of their characteristics or origin. Discrimination is a complex spiral which feeds itself and is reproducing the sources of its own existence. But mainly, discrimination is about social exclusion as a process. Social exclusion occurs where particular groups are excluded by mainstream society from fully participating in economic, social and political life. Discrimination can exist explicitly, through institutions, norms and values. It can also have invisible impacts, where values and ideas affect the self-perceptions of excluded people and their ability to claim their rights. It is also about the misuse of equality. About the equal treatment that leads toward further and more inequality. And, it is about expressions: See-No-Evil-Hear-No-Evil and denial of being somebody who is a “discriminator” as a question of self presentation as civilized person who accept non-discrimination as an expected behaviour.
New ways of discrimination, new spheres of discrimination and new tools for discrimination also require new approaches towards discrimination. We have to look at the very essence of discrimination and to review the basis for the identification of discrimination if we want to find effective ways to fight it.
In that sense, since the early 1990s, much of the theoretical work on discrimination has attempted to make visible the many ways in which discrimination occurs beyond the “forms of deliberate exclusion”. Hence, three types of discrimination have been identified:
– Individual (behaviour of the individuals which has an influence upon the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms of a concrete number of people). Individual discrimination refers to the behavior of individual members of one group that is intended to have a differential and/or harmful effect on the members of another group,
– Institutional (policies of the institutions and activities of the individuals controlling these institutions). Institutional discrimination refers to the policies of the dominant institutions and the behavior of individuals who control these institutions and implement policies that are intended to have a differential and/or harmful effect on specific/non-dominant groups,
– Structural (routines, common manners, socio acceptable behaviour which is preventing some groups of people from enjoying their rights). Structural discrimination refers to the individual behavior and to the policies of institutions as well as the behavior of the individuals who implement these policies and control these institutions, which are neutral in intent but which have a differential and/or harmful effect on non-dominant groups.
2. Structural discrimination is the new dark star in the discriminatory sky. It is about equality per se and about exclusion.
Structural discrimination primarily relates to the ways in which the common behavior and equal legislation and norms for everybody can affect, and obscure, discriminatory intent. Structural discrimination refers to rules, norms, routines, patterns of attitudes and behavior in institutions and other societal structures that represent obstacles to groups or individuals in achieving the same rights and opportunities that are available to the majority of the population. It is also important to recognize that the consequences of rules, norms and behaviors are that some are affected negatively and others positively. Such discrimination may be either open or hidden, and it could occur intentionally or unintentionally. Structural discrimination is about “them” and “us”. It is our action as individuals, the intentional as well as the unintentional action, which create and maintain structures. Discrimination on the grounds of people’s ideas of ethnicity, religion, gender, race, culture, age, sexual orientation, etc. must be seen from a structural perspective. By doing so individual action cannot be excluded or kept apart from structural discrimination. When an individual or an institution acts in accordance with the current norms and ideas of society, it is a question of structural discrimination.
The result of structural discrimination is that the patterns of interaction among groups within society, exclude identified groups or individuals on the basis of concrete traits. The concept of ‘structural inequality’ is a state which arises when certain groups enjoy unequal status in relation to other groups, as a result of unequal relations in their roles, functions, rights and opportunities.
The very basic characteristic of structural discrimination is that it is very difficult to trace directly to intentional, discrete actions of particular actors.
There are three essential components to structural discrimination:
A. Equal treatment of people with different status
– The equal treatment could be discriminatory when we are working with people with different statuses. This often occurs with people who are historically, by tradition or as a result of common behavior based on long lasting stereotypes and prejudices, placed in a disadvantage position. As an example: all people living in towns should have heating devices based on solar collectors. This is for everybody, the same rule, and, also a good rule. In my country, the result would be that a significant number of Roma would have to leave towns, as they would not have the money to pay for this change. Really, it is the same for all poor people, however, if we have in mind that 90% of Roma are poor, than, it is clear that segregation on the basis of ethnicity will occur. At this point we are entering the discussion of the historic background and previous discrimination which placed Roma people in this position. At the same time, we are entering the space of structural discrimination. Namely, segregation will result in: further continuation of prejudices, disadvantage concerning the availability of the cultural, educational and other services, worse living conditions, and further geographic marginalization.
– When the specific conditions required to access certain jobs, career development, education, services etc. are the same for everybody, this could lead to structural discrimination. If these conditions or rules can only be met by a small number of people from a specific group, then the existence of this condition or rule, provided it is not an essential criteria for specific jobs, career development, education, services etc. indicates the presence of structural discrimination. For example: to become a police officer you should be more than 1.70 cm tall. Most women and many people from some races will be excluded from the possibility to get this job.
The consequences of rules, norms and behaviour are that some are affected negatively and others positively (we have a group of people who are, or will be, rather more affected by some act or behaviour than another group). However, many times the existence of possible comparison is not important at all. It is important that the equal norm is making it difficult for specific groups of people to enjoy their basic human rights and freedoms. This type of contextual but non-comparative evaluation showing identity-based discrimination can be seen in every social context. Segregation has it social meaning and its injurious effect. Therefore, the issue of power is becoming central to an understanding of structural discrimination.
B. Common behaviour (expectations or behaviour). Structural discrimination is based on tradition, religion and social acceptability. The key phrase associated with structural discrimination is: this is the “way it was always done”, “the way everybody acts”, the way that is accepted by the majority and nobody will blame me if I behave like “this”. When an individual or an institution acts in accordance with a society’s prevailing norms and pre-conceived notions concerning specific groups (ethnic, religious, age, gender etc.) with negative impact on the members of these groups, we can assume that it is a question of structural discrimination. The profiling of people on different basis (like: race, sex, age) is exactly a result of the common/traditional existing expectations or behaviour.
– Common behaviour is constituted of: tradition (it is exactly as my grandpa and grandma were doing), religion (it is settled in the holy book), and socio acceptable behaviour (everybody is doing this).
– Very often structural discrimination related to the past. Racial, ethnic, gender or religious privilege reaches far back into humankind’s past. The traditional hierarchy and traditional order of power (like “White groups of European origin at the top and people of colour at the bottom”), is an important source of inequality and restrictions on the fulfilment of basic human rights and freedoms. “It ensures, for example, that some people are available to do society’s dirty work at low wages”.
– Our historical heritage is supporting the circle of discrimination based on common behaviour. Historically, institutions defined and enforced norms and role relationships that were racially distinct. For example: “The United States was founded and its institutions established when Blacks were slaves, uneducated, and different culturally from the dominant Whites. From the beginning, Blacks were considered inferior (the original Constitution, for example, counted a slave as three-fifths of a person). Religious beliefs buttressed this notion of the inferiority of Blacks and justified the differential allocation of privileges and sanctions in society”. Laws, customs, and traditions usually continue to reinforce current thinking as institutions have an inertial quality: once set in motion, they tend to continue on the same course.
– Impunity is tightly linked to structural discrimination. When I am doing as my parents were doing, as is proscribed by my religion and like everybody else, then I am not doing wrong, or, at least, I will not be blamed for this. Part of structural discrimination is a lack of perception of discrimination (from the side of the person who discriminates and even from the side of the person who is discriminated against).
C. Blaming of the victim for the disadvantageous situation – general justification of the existing situation with the transfer of blame to the victim of discrimination. Structural discrimination always refers to the responsibility of the victim of discrimination for his/her own situation. It is either the culture of the victim (part of “their” traditional behavior that puts them in a disadvantaged situation); passivity (“they” do not use the possibilities or mechanisms of the system); indifference (many thing are going wrong for “them” just because “they” do not care); personal choice (“they” like being without jobs, going around and begging); ignorance (probably the “softest” shifting of blame, implying that many things happen because of a lack of knowledge and information). The common denominator for all of these “explanations” is that all of them are the responsibility of the victim of discrimination.
As an example, according to this:
– It is part of the culture of some groups of people to prefer crime instead of hard work.
– People are in a disadvantaged position because they are passive and they do not act in their own interest.
– Some groups are not interesting in improving their life because they are too lazy.
– There is a problem with a lack of knowledge as a main factor of the disadvantageous treatment and position of certain groups of people.
The most sophisticated way of blaming the victim is to blame them for “playing of the so called card of discrimination”, which allegedly develops resistance on the part of the discriminators. For example: “If blacks would just stop playing the card where it doesn’t belong and stop pushing for so-called preferential treatment, whites would revert back to their prior commitment to equal opportunity, and their heartfelt concern about the issue of racism”. However, white denial is not a form of backlash to the past forty years of civil rights legislation, and white indifference to claims of racism did not only recently emerge, as if from a previous place where whites and blacks had once seen the world similarly. Simply put: whites in every generation have thought there was no real problem with racism, irrespective of the evidence, and in every generation we have been wrong.
The result of this approach in whole is: a) blaming the victim for what is happening, and, b) either denying the existence of discrimination, or, justification of discriminatory behaviour with the introduction of the “victimization syndrome” phenomenon.
At the same time, this action contributes to recreating structural discrimination. Namely, in these circumstances the perpetrator of discrimination could even parade as a friend to discriminated people, very much concerned about them and “hoping to free them from the debilitating mindset of victimization”. Theories of structural discrimination are going even further and they are introducing the alternative view, according to which “racial inequality is not fundamentally a matter of what is in people’s heads, not a matter of their private individual intentions, but rather a matter of public institutions and practices that create or perpetuate racism”.
3. Why is structural discrimination so dangerous?
A. Structural discrimination is often inseparably linked to some past direct and openly violent discrimination. Such discrimination “is much more difficult to address directly because discriminatory action is cumulative over time, especially over long durations, and its effects can be felt without the presence of any active agent. Prolonged, trans-generational access to socially valued resources, such as elite university degrees, high-status jobs and professions, political power, and culturally bestowed honors of various kinds (not to mention wealth), is facilitated by belonging to the “right” racial group. “Conversely, impeded opportunities, low status, culturally attributed dishonor (e.g., stereotypes of laziness, ugliness, or low intelligence), and frequently impoverishment are all outcomes of prolonged, trans-generational denial of access to resources and opportunities”.
Thus, structural discrimination is more than social action; in its repeated and reiterated forms it develops into a social structure. It becomes habitual and is taken for granted in all sorts of invisible ways: in the design of neighborhoods, the making of foreign policy or tax policy, or the writing of television news; in the way one is addressed by a policeman, treated by a doctor, or expected to speak the language.
The presence of structural racial discrimination also has the effect of legitimizing much intentional discrimination, which can be rendered simply by the refusal to intervene on behalf of principles of fairness or equality as resources of social value are allocated. In large-scale terms (such as determining housing or wage policies), in medium-scale terms (such as carrying out university admissions), and in small-scale terms (such as hailing a cab, or “driving while black”), present-tense, active racial discrimination is supported and camouflaged by structural discrimination.
B. At its extreme, structural discrimination can be described as structural violence. This is a concept which on some level of development makes visible ‘the social machinery of oppression’. Understanding of exclusion and marginalization is distorted because the most marginalized and oppressed die and thus the extremes of their suffering become invisible and forgotten.
C. Structural discrimination is more subtle and less intentional than open acts of discrimination. As a result, establishing blame for this kind of discrimination is extremely difficult. There is obvious, but erroneous, cause for many people to believe that racism is no longer a problem and where it is – that they have no personal responsibility for its existence as a consequence of the decrease in direct, public displays of racism. The invisibility of structural discrimination evades attempts to regulate it, for example, through law. Structural discrimination is a more controversial concept and far more difficult to address because it involves behavior that is at first glance neutral in intent. Sometimes, only the negative effects for some groups indicate the existence of discrimination.
D. Structural discrimination does not go beyond the law. It is part of the law. Yet, it is always in a visibly different position depending on the status of the person in question. For example: the black perpetrators of crimes connected with drug distribution are not punished beyond what the law dictates. The punishment is according to the law, as well as the punishments of the white perpetrators of crimes connected with drug distribution. However, most of the sentences for black people are the maximum available, while most of the sentences for white people are the minimum.. Or, at least, there are much higher sentences for (as an example) marihuana dealers (mainly black) than for cocaine dealers (predominantly among the white population).
E. Structural discrimination is linked to systematic biases towards certain groups. The individuals and institutions might simply find it more difficult to make judgments in cultural contexts other than their own and choose to err consistently on the side of caution by over-diagnosing or under-diagnosing the specific cases in these more unfamiliar circumstances”. This could lead to a situation where public policy has generally either ignored or penalized the tradition or different culture of certain groups of people.
4. What we can do? What strategy can be used to fight such discrimination?
During the last 10 years, structural discrimination has become an object of interest and it is specifically addressed.
Tackling structural discrimination means leaving behind the usual way of dealing with discrimination which is predominantly based on a demand approach. It implies leaving the mainly reactive approach, as well as, approaches directed towards the behaviour. Structural discrimination cannot be fought by solving individual cases, by the State solely reacting after a victim makes a claim or with changing the behavior of individuals. Confronting structural discrimination requires the reexamination of basic cultural values and fundamental principles of social organization.
The contemporary development of antidiscrimination legislation is not satisfied with a simple reactive role or acting only in situations when the victim of discrimination is claiming discrimination and calls for protection. The new trend requires acceptance from the side of the State, but also from the side of the private sector, of the positive obligation to promote equality in public life. This is an approach in which dealing with habits becomes much more important than handling the occasional, exceptional violation and the absence of intention to discriminate is becoming irrelevant if there are certain consequences.
So far, the predominant individual-oriented approach in conceptualization of anti-discrimination legislation demonstrates the weaknesses of individual punishment of the perpetrator of discrimination. In the situation of the expansion of structural discrimination, it can not be seen as a sufficient method for addressing discrimination.
First, many cases of discrimination go unpunished because not every victim is prepared to allege discrimination in front of a court. Second, the individual cases are not enough to influence the policies in the direction of changing discriminatory practices. There is a need for systematic opposition to discrimination and the development of the institutions capable of doing this.
Second, I strongly believe that there is a need to shift the whole approach to combating discrimination. The institutions necessary for achieving these goals can only emerge from policies that promote inclusion. Inclusive institutions can provide better services for the whole population, build human and social capital, increase services and the rule of law and facilitate more sustainable and equitable economic development.
Third, the statistical presentation of disaggregated data could be used as an appropriate tool in dealing with structural discrimination. By breaking down the data to a level that deals directly with specific groups of people, the real picture of discrimination can begin to appear.
What is the result of such breaking down and presentation of statistical data?
– The data is necessary for governments to act. To act not only on the material symptoms (poverty, or lack of education), but on the very specific reasons why some groups are more likely to be poor, punished, uneducated, less likely to own their home etc. In order to fight structural discrimination it is very important to go beyond anecdotal evidence. The final result should be a change in the way victims of discrimination are protected. Instead of protecting only those individuals who can prove they have been illegally discriminated against, the state should move toward remedying systemic discrimination, introducing positive action and being proactive, instead of reactive, in the fight against discrimination.
– People and problems should become visible. Discrepancies in terms of percentages, numeric differences, the significance of numeric differences, and ratios or probabilities can throw light on the large number of people of specific groups that are in similar, disadvantaged situations. By putting together many “small” problems, dispersed problems, unnoticed problems, in the same place, we can give a picture of the extent of the real problem.
– Not every disproportion means discrimination, but we should check and find out, dig for the hidden differences based on unrecognized stereotypes and prejudices, put them together and analyze the roots, the “why” and the “who”, through a perspective of structural discrimination.
– Also, a clear link with the situation of concrete groups of people should be made. The influence of very specific issues (like past, history, tradition, religion etc.) should be recognized and considered, both in general and in many specific fields and situations. For exemple: the history of slavery, the transatlantic slave trade and the position of people of African descent have for centuries influenced the creation and development of a wide range of stereotypes and prejudices. Long-lasting, open discrimination has defined the starting position in life for a large number of generations. Poverty, lack of education, health problems, property differences; they all have deep roots which reach back to the days of slavery.
There is a need for far more intensive measures to eliminate or at least seriously reduce structural discrimination. The measures tackling structural discrimination should be based on a policy of redistribution of resources according to a compensatory formula, sometimes viewed as reparations for past discrimination, and would also contemplate large-scale social therapy and healing projects, such as have occurred after the fall of dictatorships and after the military defeat of repressive regimes.
The introduction of contextual evidence of discrimination, rather than comparative evidence, can be seen as an appropriate tool to fight structural discrimination as well. The main difficulty in this approach is that the State should recognize its responsibility. However, without such recognition it is almost impossible to fight structural discrimination, which is often deeply rooted in the past.
One approach to correcting this is to adopt a rights-based method to development which emphasise non-discrimination, inclusion, and empowerment, aimed particularly at vulnerable or marginalised groups.
So, the main change in the approach is a shift from the original mode of action which is based on individual complaints against action of discrimination (mainly reactive from the point view of the involvement of the State and judiciary system) towards a much more systematic approach and active involvement of the State (positive action). We can say the fight against discrimination should step out of the courts and into the sphere of education and politics. The State should lead the way by multilayered activities against structural discrimination. The State is the actor that should create the framework and the general atmosphere of equality. The process starts by building mechanisms of identification of structural discrimination. The next step is defining the basic parameters of behaviour. The third level is the holistic approach – implementation in all the spheres of public life, regardless of acting within the public or private structures or individuals, and regardless of the ground of discrimination.
Development of the equality body in the Republic of Macedonia, Najcevska M. (2009)
Analysis of standards and examples of good practice in the development of ant discriminatory legislation, Najcevska M. (2010)
Equal Rights – A Sweden for everybody, SEKO 2006
Social problems, Chapter 8 Racial & Ethnic Inequality, Summary by Russ Long
January 10, 2010
Extracted with permission from Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. Edited by Maurianne Adams, etc., Published 2000. Discrimination Comes in Many Forms: Individual, Institutional, and Structural by Fred L. Pincus
The blue and yellow glass house: structural discrimination in Sweden, Paul Lappalainen, 2005
Social exclusion as a process, http://www.gsdrc.org/go/topic-guides/social-exclusion/definitions-and-different-understandings-of-social-exclusion
Discrimination by Comparison, Suzanne B. Goldberg , Columbia Law School, Yale Law Journal, Vol. 120, 2010 , Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 10-231
Structural Discrimination, Disproportionality, and Diversity Training for
Caseworkers, Edwina L. Dorch, Ph.D., Jeryl L. Mumpower, Ph.D., DRAFT WORKING PAPER, June 2008, Bush School Working Paper # 605
What Kind of Card is Race?, By Tim Wise, 2006
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