one: “Racism, far from being the simple delusion of a bigoted and ignorant minority, is a set of beliefs whose structure arises from the deepest levels of our lives - from the fabric of assumptions we make about the world, ourselves, and others, and from the patterns of our fundamental social activities.” Kovel shows how various fantasies and personality traits can coalesce into ‘race’ prejudice and how this sheds light on the history of racism: “Racist psychology is a prerequisite of racial institutions, and racist institutions engender a racist psychology” (Kovel, 1971).
The biological approach draws attention to the objective reality of certain physical differences and the specific form of racism associated with skin colour. Anti-racism does not mean a denial of these differences but does challenge the social meanings and interpretations attributed to them. UNESCO statements have debunked the so-called scientific racism based on biological determinism. However, this theory keeps recurring in the form of socio-biology, even though most geneticists and biologists acknowledge that: “The designation of the world’s population into distinctive racial categories can no longer be considered a tenable scientific enterprise” (Troyna and Williams, 1986).
The multi-cultural approach is popular with many people perhaps because it is non-threatening, and can improve mutual appreciation and understanding between individuals and groups; it can also contribute to overcoming communication problems and misunderstanding, which may fuel racism. However this approach is criticised for diverting attention away from power differentials, structural oppression and for overestimating ignorance as the main factor in the creation of racism.
The structural approach provides a sociological framework for understanding racism in the context of changing historical, political, economic and social processes. This approach provides a solid framework for going beyond symptoms and for addressing root causes. It also exposes how routine practices and procedures result in black and minority ethnic groups having lower incomes, higher unemployment, worse health, accommodation and life chances than the majority population and less influence on the decisions which affect their lives. However, the approach has been accused of making inflated claims (see Miles, 1989) and for deterministic and doctrinaire explanations which ignore concrete situations and individual personalities (Donald and Rattansi, 1992).