A Comparative Study of Responses to Discrimination by Members of Stigmatized Groups

Year Awarded: 2007

This Initiative has concluded its research.

This international multidisciplinary project analyzed the discursive and behavioral strategies that members of stigmatized groups use to cope with racism and discrimination. The project team compared the accounts of these strategies produced by middle and working class men and women ages 18 to 70. They focused on members of minority groups living in mixed cities: negros in Rio de Janiero, African-Americans in New York, and Ethiopian immigrants, Mizrahis, and Muslim Palestinian citizens in Tel Aviv/Jaffa. They studied how the range and salience of strategies were affected by perceived discrimination across these national contexts. The project also considered the association between strategies and mental health outcomes, with the goal of contributing to the literature on mental health and racial disparity, which has traditionally been more concerned with risk than with resilience, and with intra-individual processes as opposed to meaning-making. As of March 2009, the interviews were completed. Preliminary findings were presented at a conference held at Harvard in October 2009. The project team prepared a volume that will offer a systematic comparison of the US, Brazil and Israeli cases. Another volume presented their results as well as those of several related projects (led by faculty members or graduate students) on collective myths in Quebec, the maintenance of Jewish collective identity among Canadian youth, the social psychology of discrimination, and responses to racism by immigrants in Sweden, blacks in France, members of First Nation tribes in Canada, Muslims in the Us and the UK after 9/11, and members of the black middle class in Brazil and South Africa. This project involved Harvard faculty from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and from other schools at Harvard, as well as faculty associated with the Successful Societies Project.

Principal Investigator

Michèle Lamont

Executive Committee; Steering Committee; Faculty Associate. Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies; Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology; Professor of African and African American Studies, Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University.

See also: Initiatives