Summary of Racism: Concepts, Theories and Approaches

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Hollinsworth, D (1998) Racism: concepts, theories and approaches, Race and Racism in Australia, 2nd edition, Social Science Press, Katoomba, NSW.

In this reading, Hollinsworth provides a very detailed analysis of the concept of racism. He explains how theorists have constructed different ideas about racism in relation to ethnicity, social history, class and gender.

The theorists have made a very important point in that although social culture rejects the idea of racism, it does still exist, sometimes in very similar ways. An example is the similarity between ethnocentrism and ideological racism. Both of these believe that their ethnic culture is superior and other cultures are biologically, intellectually or culturally inferior. The two tie in together as the basis for prejudice.

Institutional racism is also explained. This is a complex subject, but usually occurs within an institution setting such as government bodies and the private sector. Some ethnic groups have an advantage in this situation whereas others are disadvantaged and discriminated against.

Hollinsworth also explores the Marxist and feminist perspectives on racism. In the Marxist approach, the main focus is on race in the context of class. The feminist view however concentrates on the impact that ethnic and racial discrimination have on gender.

The concept of identity politics is then explored which is a theory that specific ethnic groups unite in order to affect political or social change. White studies are then discussed which are based on the theory that there are many political, legal and economic privileges for those categorised as being white, whereas those racialised as non-white and indigenous are often disadvantaged.

Lastly, the concept of new racism and the intersection of race and gender are discussed. New racism is the idea that the differences between ethnic groups are based on culture and religion, rather than blood and biology.

It’s difficult to determine a...
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