Structural racism in Switzerland

Structural racism is a reality. We were asked by the Service for Combating Racism to gather existing evidence for structural racism. Today, the results are announced (press release in German, French, Italian). There are accessible 10-page summaries available in German, French, and Italian, and more detailed 50-page reports in German, French, and Italian over at the website of the SFM. For those interested in more technical details, or a brief overview in English, there’s an online appendix.

To synthesize the literature, we chose a scoping review, in which we screened around 1,500 studies to identify 304 studies that treat structural racism in Switzerland broadly defined. Only studies with empirical evidence were used, and only those who covered the situation in Switzerland. In addition, we used interviews to better make sense of the results, and to provide a contemporary understanding of structural racism. Our contribution was the synthesis, not the knowledge that was already out there — albeit scattered in different places.

Drawing on a conceptual frame by Osta and Vasquez (2021), we approached structural racism with three components (history, policies, practices; inequitable outcomes, disparities; associations, stereotypes, assumptions) and connections between these components. All methods identify racial inequalities, racialized practices, or racist stereotypes across spheres and groups. Many studies draw on migration and nationality for classification, and most studies provide partial evidence, but when considered jointly, the existing literature provides a clear picture consistent with structural racism.

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