How does discrimination weaken social cohesion? Three questions to Stéphane Carcillo


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You have published, with the economist Marie-Anne Valfort, a book on discrimination in the world of work that shows that there is a correlation between discrimination and trust in social relations. How does this link work?

The American political scientist Robert Putnam is the first to have identified, in the early 2000s, a link between the practice of discrimination and the emergence of mistrust. Because the breakages are perceived as a deeply unjust mechanics, they undermine social cohesion – and on a large scale. Discrimination is not marginal: homosexuals represent 5% to 10% of the population, ethnic minorities about 10% and women constitute a "majority minority". A large part of the population sees their career and their stagnant salary due to absurd prejudices and irrational stereotypes.

These discriminations generate real vicious circles: instead of favoring the integration of minorities, they encourage them to withdraw into their community of origin. Faced with these exclusion mechanisms, minorities tend to reject the values ​​of the host society. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Muslims living in American states where Islamophobic actions increased more, ten years later, had stricter social norms, higher rates of intra-community marriages and more religious practices. intransigent.

These discriminations, in your opinion, also have consequences outside the circle of directly discriminated people. With which mechanisms?

Discrimination harms people who suffer from it, but it also disrupts social play: it transforms the behavior of all those who belong to the group of discriminated people. American and French studies thus highlight the mechanism of the "threat of the stereotype": people belonging to minorities fear the prejudices associated with their skin color, their sex or their sexual orientation that lose their means during the test. And they end up inadvertently confirming the negative image of their group.

Jeff Stone, professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, showed in an experiment at Princeton that African Americans do better in sports if presented as "A measure of natural physical form" that likes "A measure of the ability to develop a strategy during a sports show" – as if they wanted to confirm the stereotypes that blacks are more gifted for sport than for intellectual matters. Even prejudice weighs heavily on girls: since they are supposed to have less mathematical dispositions than boys, they do better with the same arithmetic test when there are no boys in the room …


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