Tabulating experiences of racism and racial discrimination across the life course.

Mary Breheny*, Brendan Stevenson, Laia Bécares, Jamie Abelson, Jane Rafferty, Donna Cormack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Indigenous, migrant, racial, and ethnic minority group members report experiences of racism that are lifelong and damaging. To understand the context that shapes these experiences, we developed a tabular approach to analyzing focus group interviews of life course experiences of racism. The approach was grounded in critical realism and narrative analysis. Using these foundations, stories of personal experiences of racism were understood to provide evidence of enduring social structures that maintain racism. Extracts were organized into tables with rows corresponding with periods of the life-course (such as early childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, mid-life, and older age). Rows were labeled with the decade these experiences occurred to highlight sociohistorical influences. Columns in the table were used to represent the familial generation of the protagonists in the stories. Examining these experiences as occurring across different life-course periods (childhood, adolescence, and adulthood), from different cohorts and family roles (child, parent, and grandparent), and time periods revealed patterns in the persistence of racism. This approach was instrumental in identifying the ways that experiences of racism are dynamic and contested even as they are experienced as persistent across the life-course. Situating this within a critical realist framework built an explanation of the enduring social structures that support racism to persist even while experiences of racism change. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalStigma and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • critical realism
  • focus groups
  • life course theory
  • narrative analysis
  • racism


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