Coping with Discrimination. from Subjective Experience to Social Consequences of Discriminations

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:45 PM
Room: Booth 42
Oral Presentation
Sandrine RUI , Department of sociology, Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
To what extent studying discrimination from the subjective experience of discriminated persons throws new light on the sociology of discrimination? Whereas most of the studies aim to measuring discriminations (usually with quantitative methods) or aim to  evaluating policies implemented to reduce them, the point of view of those who are discriminated or susceptible to be discriminated is less often analyzed. This last perspective is at the core of the research this communication is based on. Our research has been led in France using 4 sociological interventions and 220 interviews with persons concerned by discriminations due to their origin, their culture, their sexuality or their sex. (Dubet F., Cousin O., Macé E. et Rui S. (2012), Pourquoi Moi ? L’expérience des discriminations, Paris, Seuil.)

Our study emphasizes the gap between the subjective experience and the objective situations people go through. The experience of discrimination is therefore determined by structural and individual factors, by institutional, economic and social mechanisms as well as personal resources and strategies. We will focus on the way people cope with the discriminations, the way they avoid, resist, abdicate or adapt, the way their strategies are successful or entail perverse side effects, in order to understand the effects on individuals as well as the collective consequences of discriminations.  Ambivalent and uncertain, the experience of discrimination is all the less adjusted to its definition as a public problem since the links between discrimination and domination, discrimination and stigmatization, discrimination and inequalities are not obvious.

Regarding theoretical and methodological issue, we will insist on the relevance of sociological intervention (Touraine, 1978 ; Cousin & Rui, 2010) for the study of  the discrimination’s effects at the same time on individuals and on society.