SSP Seminar Series | Toward a Sociology of Microaggressions: Structural Mechanisms of Racial Microaggressions and Their Relationship with Institutionalized Racism in Australia
Racial microaggressions appear in different forms and affect racial and ethnic groups through everyday practices. We know little, however, about how racial microaggressions are perceived and operate in the context of institutionalized racism. In an immigration context, the structural mechanisms that influence migrant workers’ interpretations of racial microaggressions remain understudied.
This talk highlights the structural conditions of racial microaggressions and their complex relationships with institutionalized racism. By examining how Chinese migrant workers perceive and react to racial microaggressions from white Australian bosses and colleagues, I argue that the intersection of foreign-ness, human capital, and migrant status reflects structural inequality in the field of overseas employment, which involves an ideological system that reminds migrant workers of their differences/otherness when racial microaggressions happen. The intersection also influences how migrant workers interpret and react to such microaggressions. Meanwhile, workplace relations and interaction patterns ease tensions between advantaged and disadvantaged groups, yet persistent racial stereotypes and unequal race relations are maintained in everyday life.
Yao-Tai Li is currently an assistant professor of sociology at Hong Kong Baptist University. He is also a member of Taiwanese Working Holiday Youth (T-WHY) in Australia. He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego. His research interests include race and ethnicity, immigration, identity politics, and social media. His work has been published in several scholarly journals including Sociological Perspectives, Current Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Critical Sociology, International Migration, and City, Culture, and Architecture.