The Sewell Report and the Meaning of Institutional Racism

Tue, 13 Jul 2021

Oliver Lawrence, a barrister at No5 examines the approach taken by the Sewell report to the concept of institutional racism. Drawing on the MacPherson definition, he explores the meaning of the term and the ambiguities within it in order to clarify the findings of the report and the controversy it created. Using the Equality Act 2010 definitions of direct and indirect discrimination, he explains how  the Sewell report uses the term to refer to discriminatory reasons whereas many of its critics use the term to refer to discriminatory outcomes. He concludes that without a clear and unambiguous definition of institutional racism, there will inevitably be widespread disagreement about the extent of the problem.



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