Since the 1980s, everyday racism has gained ground within the social sciences. However, the theory of everyday racism has not been properly adopted and, consequently, varies across different research fields. The main goal of this study is to improve the scientific rigor within research on everyday racism in the human and social sciences. Following a review of the ground-breaking work of Philomena Essed, three main components in everyday racism literature are theoretically distilled and conceptualized: (1) repetitiveness and familiarity, (2) racism and (3) the interdependent link between micro-interactions and macro-structures. This is followed by a critical assessment of what everyday racism means and how it is assessed in research today, by performing a systematic electronic review of qualitative-methods papers. We make three suggestions towards a more complete and sophisticated understanding of everyday racism. Firstly, the concepts of everyday racism and microaggressions need to be disconnected from each other. Secondly, research should focus more on the symbiotic relation between micro-interactions and macro-structures and should also identify relevant situational features at the spatial meso-level. Lastly, it is important to be cautious of the pitfall of cultural determinism that is still a popular perspective in today’s field of (everyday) racism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-250
Number of pages30
JournalDu Bois Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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