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Unveiling everyday discrimination. Two field experiments on discrimination against religious minorities in day‐to‐day interactions


British Journal of Sociology

Published online on


["\nAbstract\nIn recent years—particularly since the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2015—the political debate about issues of Islamophobia and resentment of Muslims has gained new momentum. Our research contributes to the growing experimental literature focusing on these phenomena. Unlike most previous empirical investigations, the present study does not examine “large scale” discrimination against Muslim minorities in situations which occur only periodically throughout an individual's life (e.g., on the rental‐, labor‐, or partner market); rather, it sheds light on (minor) discrimination events that occur on a day‐to‐day basis. Such “everyday discrimination” has been shown to be particularly detrimental to physical and psychological health. Specifically, our research examines the effect of open displays of religious identification—wearing a Muslim headscarf—on everyday discrimination against female Muslims. We report the results of two natural field experiments in Switzerland designed to examine such forms of day‐to‐day discrimination. Study 1 focuses on differential sanctioning, whereas study 2 investigates differences regarding helping behavior. We found pronounced discrimination against women wearing a headscarf in two distinctly different types of everyday interactions. In both scenarios, headscarf‐wearing confederates were treated less favorably than bare‐headed ones: they were sanctioned more often for violating the “stand right, walk left”‐norm on escalators and received less help when asking for a favor (borrowing a mobile phone for an urgent call).\n", "The British Journal of Sociology, EarlyView. "]