Racism [operational definition adopted by RED Network partners]

is any set of beliefs (ideology) that members of a specified group(s) possess certain immutable characteristics (most commonly ethnic, cultural or biological) that justify their inferiorisation (i.e. ‘the other’ seen as naturally inferior to the ‘we’).


Alternative definitions of racism                                                                                        

Pierre van den Berghe defined racism as:

…any set of beliefs that organic, genetically transmitted differences (whether real or imagined) between human groups are intrinsically associated with the presence or the absence of certain socially relevant abilities or characteristics, hence that such differences are a legitimate basis of invidious distinctions between groups socially defined as races.


In Britain the Macpherson Inquiry (1999) gave a definition of what constitutes a Racist Incident.

"A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person."

This definition is now used in all official data collection in Britain, though it is not immune to criticism and misinterpretation.

Racist violence is an especially serious (criminal) variant of a racist incident.


Institutional racism [operational definition adopted by RED Network partners]

is that which, covertly or overtly, consciously or unconsciously (at the level of the individual social actor) resides in the policies, procedures, operations and culture/ethos of public or private institutions - reinforcing individual prejudices and being reinforced by them in turn.

[explanatory: Whereas individual racism is the expression of personal prejudice, institutional racism is the expression of an entire organisation's racist policies, practices, ethos and/or culture.it can include state racism: for example, the nefarious activities/practices (and policies) of immigration authorities and the police. This can also lead to (individual) racist incidents and violence.]