Structural Discrimination - Extracted with permission from...

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- 1 - 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 Discrimination is a critical term in understanding problems associated with diversity. Historically, of course, discrimination has been a major cause of the lack of diversity in higher education and the rest of society. In the 1990s, race and gender discrimination still permeate the institutions and structure of the United States even though most white Americans view discrimination as relatively unimportant. Several years ago, I wrote that there were three different levels of discrimination- individual, institutional, and structural (Pincus 1994). Individual discrimination refers to the behavior of individual members of one race/ethnic/gender group that is intended to have a differential and/or harmful effect on the members of another race/ethnic/gender group. Institutional discrimination, on the other hand, is quite different because it refers to the policies of the dominant race/ethnic/gender 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 minority race/ethnic/gender groups. Finally, structural discrimination refers to the policies of dominant race/ethnic/gender institutions and the behavior of the individuals who implement these policies and control these institutions, which are race/ethnic/gender neutral in intent but which have a differential and/or harmful effect on minority race/ethnic/gender groups. In these definitions, the term dominant refers to groups that have most of the power in society. In the United States, this refers to whites, especially white males. The term minority refers to groups that lack power; it does not refer to groups that are small. In the United States, people of color and women are minority groups as are certain non-Christian religious groups like Jews and Muslims. People of color also happen to be a numerical minority, but women are not. Individual versus Institutional Discrimination Although both individual and institutional discrimination involve an intention to harm, the level of behavior is quite different. Individual discrimination involves the actions of an