Glossary Term:


Social practices that are based on the notion of the inherent value of certain characteristics considered central to the nature of particular groups of people. Such practices involve degrees of discrimination—either in favor or to the detriment of the particular groups involved.

Racism is enacted in visible and physical ways as well as in more ideological or ‘invisible’ ways. French philosopher Louis Althusser (1970) explored the difference between what he called ‘repressive’ and ‘ideological State apparatuses’ The former is constituted by visible forms of discrimination—systems of apartheid that physically enact a set of racist practices, stolen generations, etc—while the latter find their expression in things such as the school curriculum, selective streaming practices in schools, popular culture (see Giroux’s work on the racism within the Disney catalogue, for example) and in everyday language (the AFL episode involving Alan Goodes being called an ‘ape’ is an unfortunate example).

Under racist regimes of practice, people are pre-judged and treated according to predetermined assessments of the qualities of their group—their ‘race’—or more frequently these days, their ethnicity.

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