Cultural differences and heteroethnicization in Portugal: the perceptions of White and Black people

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An analysis of some socio-psychological processes of discrimination against black people is presented. This analysis is framed on the hypothesis according to which cultural categories are now functional equivalents of racial categories. Folk-cultural categories offer criteria that allow the organization and the accentuation of differences between human groups, and sustain the implicit process that transforms the difference into inferiority (the process of hetero-ethnicization). In favour of this hypothesis, the first part of the paper analyses the main elements of social representations of differences between human groups based on the idea of human races, and then the representations of differences based on cultural classifications. Empirical arguments are then presented. The authors revisit data showing that white Portuguese who accentuate the differences between themselves and black people are more discrimination-oriented than non-differentialists. In this same vein, a study carried out on young black people living in Portugal shows that those who most believe they are perceived to be culturally different by white Portuguese are also those who most believe themselves to be discriminated against.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2002

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  • The Portuguese Journal of Social Science opens a gateway for the international community to engage with a high calibre of academic work in social sciences produced by Portuguese scholarship. Previous to the publication of this journal, this work remained largely inaccessible to an international readership due to issues with language and translation.
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