Race, racism, discourse

Kaposi, Dávid and Richardson, John E. (2017). Race, racism, discourse. In: Wodak, Ruth and Forchtner, Bernhard eds. The Routledge Handbook of Language and Politics. Routledge Handbooks. Routledge, pp. 630–645.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315183718-48


This chapter examines race and racism, and the relations between social ideas, social stratification based on these ideas, and discourse. Conventional, lay understandings of racism - as revealed, for example, in dictionary definitions - continue to consider racism to be a system of beliefs, or a false mode of thinking. The chapter assumes that racism, like all aspects of social life, is in part discursive: it is simultaneously a product of, and a factor contributing to, the continuation of hierarchical and unjust social relations. The core exoteric message of the extreme right amounts to a base opposition to immigration and, frequently, settled minority ethnic communities. The idea of racism having become taboo has led to developments where racism is not only coded and implicit, but arguably unintentional. This means that racists do not simply seek to deceive the mainstream public and communicate to audiences with coded messages, but rather that racism manages to deceive the self that emits it.

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