Structural Discrimination

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As structural discrimination that forms of discrimination referred to social groups, in the nature of the structure of society as a whole are justified immanent. The counterpart to structural discrimination is interactional discrimination.

Theoretical approach

The starting point are norms and (implicit) rules that apply equally to all parts of society. They result in structural discrimination if, through their use in the form of attitudes or actions, subgroups in society are exposed to serious inequality.

Differentiation from other levels of discrimination

The psychologist Ute Osterkamp states for racism "that racist ways of thinking and acting are not a matter of the personal attitudes of individuals, but rather in the organization of social coexistence, which systematically privileges the members of their own group over those who do not belong".

The distinction between structural and institutional discrimination is inconsistent in the literature. Some authors see indirect forms of discrimination as structural . According to Gomolla, structural discrimination (as opposed to institutional discrimination) describes the "historical and socio-structural concentration of discrimination that can no longer be clearly traced back to specific institutions." Structural discrimination is often hidden and - like institutional discrimination - those involved, including those affected, are often initially not aware of it, because social structures are taken for granted.

According to a study by the Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research , the long-term consequences of structural discrimination for those affected are often much more serious than situational individual discrimination, because it takes place systematically and in several areas of life at the same time and those affected would not have the opportunity to use the discriminatory structures avoid.

Examples and Discourses

The wage differences between men and women ( gender wage gap ) are sometimes not seen as institutional discrimination (at the organizational level), but at the structural level.

The Paritätische Gesamtverband points out that the dependence on educational success due to social origin is an indication of structural disadvantage. Although the regulations applicable in the education system are formally neutral with regard to origin, gender or sexual identity, for example, due to social stereotypes and the resulting actions and conventions, certain minorities often experience structural exclusion without questioning.


  • Helma Katrin Alter: Equal opportunities for everyone. Trans identity, transsexuality, transgender, trans * ??? (Transidentity in Germany 1998/1999. A non-fiction book for ... the interested citizen, doctors and psychologists, trans people, partners and relatives). KatrinLive SV, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-89811-043-5 .
  • Anita Kalpaka, Nora Räthzel: Racism as a form of ideological socialization. In: Anita Kalpaka, Nora Räthzel: The difficulty of not being racist. 2nd, completely revised edition. Mundo, Leer 1990, ISBN 3-89452-413-8 , pp. 18-44.
  • Christopher Knoll, Monika Bittner, Manfred Edinger, Günter Reisbeck, Rainer Schmitt, Heiner Keupp: Study. "Lesbians and gays in the world of work". Results on discrimination against lesbians and gays in the work situation. Carried out by the Munich gay and lesbian research group at the Institute for Psychology - Social Psychology - of the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich on behalf of the Lower Saxony Ministry of Social Affairs. Institute for Psychology - Social Psychology - of the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Munich 1995, ( online ).
  • Kurt Möller / Florian Neuscheler (eds.): “Who wants to have them here?”. Rejection attitudes and discrimination in Germany. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2017, ISBN 978-3-17-032799-3 .
  • Birgit Rommelspacher : Dominance culture. Texts on strangeness and power. Orlanda-Frauenverlag, Berlin 1995. ISBN 3-929823-29-2 .
  • Ursula Wachendorfer: Being white in Germany. To the invisibility of a prevailing normality. In: Susan Arndt (Ed.): AfrikaBilder. Studies on racism in Germany. Unrast, Münster 2001, ISBN 3-89771-407-8 , pp. 87-101.
  • Änneke Winckel: Stabilization of the "Gypsy" construction through state policy. In: Änneke Winckel: Antiziganism. Racism against Roma and Sinti in the unified Germany. Unrast, Münster 2002, ISBN 3-89771-411-6 , p. 18 f.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Lemke: The police of the genes. Forms and fields of genetic discrimination (= Frankfurt contributions to sociology and social philosophy. 9). Campus, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2006, ISBN 3-593-38023-4 , pp. 139-140.
  2. Ulrike Hormel, Albert Scherr : Education for the immigration society. Perspectives on dealing with structural, institutional and interactional discrimination. VS - Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-531-14399-9 , p. 28.
  3. Ute Osterkamp : Racism as self-empowerment. Texts from the work context of the project Racism / Discrimination (= Argument. Special Vol. 244). Argument-Verlag, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-88619-244-X , p. 201.
  4. Mechthild Gomolla: Direct and indirect, institutional and structural discrimination . In: Albert Scherr, Aladin El-Mafaalani, Gökçen Yüksel (ed.): Handbook Discrimination . Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2017, p. 148 ( ).
  5. Mechthild Gomolla: Direct and indirect, institutional and structural discrimination . In: Albert Scherr, Aladin El-Mafaalani, Gökçen Yüksel (ed.): Handbook Discrimination . Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2017 ( ).
  6. Steffen Beigang, Karolina Fetz, Dorina Kalkum, Magdalena Otto: Discrimination experiences in Germany . Ed .: Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency. 2017, p. 63 ( [PDF]).
  7. University of Düsseldorf: Gender Pay Gap - A Structural Problem or Discrimination? Retrieved August 7, 2020 .
  8. Discrimination, structural. Retrieved August 7, 2020 .