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Disentangling discrimination in Europe: Patterns, processes, and consequences of discrimination experiences among multiple targeted groups in a comparative perspective

Research project Discrimination is an incredibly complex problem in Europe, since in each country there are several groups which experience discrimination in several domains of social life.

This project aims to disentangle the patterns, processes, and consequences of discrimination in Europe.

Head of project

Jeffrey Mitchell
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2024-01-01 2026-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Sociology

Research area


External funding

Swedish Research Council

Project description

In recent decades, all European countries have adopted anti-discrimination laws in accordance with the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Commission on Racial Equality to combat discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity and have designated bodies charged with monitoring the implementation and enforcement of these laws. These developments would suggest that at the structural level, discrimination in Europe should be in decline, meaning that the countries that have made the most progress in these areas should report lower levels of discrimination in various social domains. Yet despite these encouraging trends, research shows that public attitudes towards minoritized and historically marginalized groups are becoming more accepting of some, while less accepting of others over time (Dotti Sani & Quaranta, 2022; Gorodzeisky & Semyonov, 2018). In either case, discrimination is still a common problem in European countries with far reaching consequences for the people that experience it. Further complicating matters, reliable harmonized data—collected with the specific aim of assessing discrimination experiences in a comparative perspective— is only now becoming available, meaning that there is an enormous knowledge gap linking the theoretically determinant factors which produce and reproduce discrimination, to the experiences of group members at risk of discrimination in different European countries.

The aim of this project is to fill this gap by disentangling the patterns, processes, and consequences of discrimination in Europe. We will accomplish this by answering the following research questions:

  1. To what extent to which different groups experience discrimination in different ways? (the patterns)
  2. What types of contextual factors (organizational, structural, discursive, attitudinal) contribute to the prevalence of discrimination experiences among different groups? (the processes)
  3. What are the consequences of discrimination experiences in terms of health, life satisfaction and trust, and how are these consequences mediated by country contexts? (the consequences)

To explore these questions, we will analyze survey data from the European Commission’s Fundamental Rights Agency, designed specifically to study various targeted groups including the Roma, Jewish people, different groups of migrants, as well as people who identify as LGBTI. The research produced by this project will assess a wide range of group-specific discrimination experiences, the various domains of social life where discrimination occurs, factors that contribute to those experiences, and the consequences that they have in people’s lives. In doing so, we will shed light on the scale of the problem from a comparative perspective and push the research field forward by empirically assessing the connections between theoretical explanations of discrimination and outcomes.

External funding

Latest update: 2024-05-06