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Sociological Perspectives on Racial Discrimination

Mario L. Small and Devah Pager

Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2020, vol. 34, issue 2, 49-67

Abstract: As in economics, racial discrimination has long been a focus of research in sociology. Yet the disciplines traditionally have differed in how they approach the topic. While some studies in recent years show signs of cross-disciplinary influence, exposing more economists to sociological perspectives on racial discrimination would benefit both fields. We offer six propositions from the sociology of racial discrimination that we believe economists should note. We argue that independent of taste and statistical discrimination, economists should study institutional discrimination; that institutional discrimination can take at least two forms, organizational and legal; that in both forms the decisions of a contemporary actor to discriminate can be immaterial; that institutional discrimination is a vehicle through which past discrimination has contemporary consequences; that minor forms of everyday interpersonal discrimination can be highly consequential; and that whether actors perceive they have experienced discrimination deserves attention in its own right.

JEL-codes: A12 J15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1257/jep.34.2.49

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