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  1. Martha Augoustinos

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0768

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Augoustinos, M. 2010. Racism. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Adelaide, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Although many definitions of racism have been proposed, an all-inclusive definition has yet to be agreed on, particularly as researchers have identified a variety of racisms (Miles & Brown, 2003; Richards, 1997). Central to many definitions of racism is the belief in a biological hierarchy between different racial and ethnic groups and the associated practices that maintain and reproduce social inequalities between groups based on such beliefs. The belief that differences between social groups are biological implies that such variability is fundamental and fixed. These essentialist beliefs lead to the categorization of people into groups based on assumptions that surface characteristics (e.g., skin color) reflect deeper essential features, and these in turn are believed to be inherent and unchangeable and to reflect the real nature of the groups they represent. These ideas were central to scientific racism, which was widely promoted as an ideology in the late nineteenth century and the earlier half of the twentieth century.


  • new racism;
  • old-fashioned racism;
  • prejudice;
  • race;
  • scientific racism