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Can minorities discriminate against majorities? An analysis of academic and ordinary usage

New publication by Simone Sommer Degn in Philosophical Psychology

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09515089.2024.2352552

Abstract: Can a minority agent, Jamal, discriminate against a majority agent, Dave, conceptually speaking? Taking an experimental-philosophical approach, this article addresses the conceptual puzzle by investigating both the ordinary usage of discrimination and whether the academic literature reflects the folk concept. First, it provides a conceptual analysis of discrimination as it is used across the discrimination research field. The analysis produces two novel definitions of discrimination: a symmetric conception, which implies multi-directionality, and an asymmetric conception, which implies uni-directionality. Then, I empirically investigate the US lay concept of discrimination (N = 1,487). The highlight of the paper is an experiment on whether US ordinary usage is symmetric or asymmetric (Study 1), tested across four contexts and three traits (Hiring: Gender, Club: Sexuality, Dating: Race, Parental: Gender). In addition, I study which groups are most often discriminated against, according to respondents, to record potential sensitivity to the frequency of discrimination (Study 2). Overall, the results show that ordinary usage in the US is symmetric across different contexts and traits, and that paradigmatic minority groups are most often discriminated against. So, according to respondents, Jamal can discriminate against Dave, although Jamal is more often discriminated against than Dave.