ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Experiences and Perceptions of Discrimination among Dalits and Muslims

Through the use of new survey data, the experiences and perceptions of discrimination among Dalits and Muslims have been quantified. One important result is that many respondents report experiencing discrimination at school and in interactions with government officials. These results are even more worrisome when we consider that self-reports of discrimination perhaps underestimate the true extent of the problem.

In a recent study, we introduced Social Attitudes Research, India (SARI), a mobile phone survey about prejudice, discrimination, and social attitudes, and presented findings about explicit prejudices held by people from advantaged groups about Dalits and women (Coffey et al 2018). The present study shifts the focus from quantifying prejudices voiced by people from dominant groups to quantifying experiences and perceptions of discrimination among people from disadvantaged groups; in particular, Dalits and Muslims. Few prior studies report Dalits’ and Muslims’ own experiences and perceptions of discrimination using quantitative survey data; the unique data reported in this article contribute to a more complete picture of the nature and extent of discrimination in India.

Why is it important to quantify experiences and perceptions of discrimination? Such experiences bring pain, distress, humiliation, and discouragement (Jadhav et al 2016; Guru 2009; Sukumar 2008). There is mounting evidence that experiencing discrimination impacts mental and physical health (Paradies 2006). Experiences of discrimination are particularly significant when they occur in schools and during interactions with government officials, as these institutions are supposed to provide equal treatment and create equal opportunities. Although perceiving that one’s group faces discrimination may seem less problematic than actually experiencing it, research suggests that perceiving that one’s group faces discrimination has harmful effects on psychological well-being (Schmitt et al 2014).

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Updated On : 22nd Oct, 2018

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