The Infrastructure of Racism: The Institutional Dimensions

  • Robbie W. C. Tourse
  • Johnnie Hamilton-Mason
  • Nancy J. Wewiorski


The infrastructure of racism is perpetuated by structural dimensions that affect individuals, groups, organizations, and society as a whole. Institutionalized racism transcends the individual level and is supported by scaffolding in American society. This chapter focuses on entrenched systemic racism that operates to create and maintain racial inequalities at the broad societal level. It examines poverty and accumulated wealth as examples of racial disparities that illuminate the operation of this structural form of racism. It also discusses the invisibility of structural racism and describes the interlocking institutional web that, along with the racial scaffolding, assists in supporting the perpetuation of racism. Using a systems theory framework, the chapter describes and discusses the operation of institutional racism on three hierarchical levels—individual, organizational, and societal. The rungs of the racial scaffolding are conceptualized as societal level inputs that contribute to the outcome of racial inequality in the society at large. The chapter also presents and describes organizational racial equity and organizational racial tolerance and gives illustrative examples of how these factors are manifest in employment within an organization/company.


Institutional racism Structural racism Systemic racism Institutional web Individual racism Organizational racism Societal racism Racial disparities 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robbie W. C. Tourse
    • 1
  • Johnnie Hamilton-Mason
    • 2
  • Nancy J. Wewiorski
    • 3
  1. 1.Boston College School of Social WorkChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.Simmons College School of Social WorkBostonUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsBostonUSA

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