DOI: 10.1177/01902725221121825 ISSN:

A Relational Approach to Perceived Discrimination: The Case of South Asian Indians

Muna Adem, Shelley Rao, Helen B. Marrow, Melissa J. García, Dina G. Okamoto
  • Social Psychology

Perceived discrimination is often theorized within a bounded social context, and much of this literature focuses on how structural and socioeconomic factors shape minorities’ perceptions of discrimination. However, immigrants exist in varied social contexts given their exposure to both home and destination countries. In this study, we propose a relational framework to understand how stratification systems in one’s country of origin and relative group evaluations in new social contexts interact to shape experiences with perceived discrimination for immigrant groups. As a case study, we draw on an original, representative survey ( N = 501) and follow-up interviews ( N = 58) with Indian immigrants living in Atlanta and Philadelphia. Although respondents report a range of explicit to subtle discriminatory experiences, they often downplay or minimize them. We argue that interpreting these experiences relationally—in relation to Indians’ perceptions of discrimination abroad and toward other U.S. minority groups—is key to explaining this puzzle.

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