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Institutional racism in the film industry: a multilevel perspective

Sophie Hennekam (ESC La Rochelle School of Business, La Rochelle, France)
Jawad Syed (Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 20 August 2018



While the notion of institutional racism typically focuses on racial discrimination in institutions such as governmental organisations, academic institutions and courts of law, there is a need to complement this organisational (meso) focus with the investigation of relevant factors at the societal (macro) and individual (micro) levels. The purpose of this paper is to examine the multilevel factors influencing institutional racism in the film industry.


Drawing on 16 in-depth interviews with individuals working in the film industry, this paper develops a conceptual perspective of multilevel racism.


The findings highlight how power structures, network-based recruitment practices, as well as formal and informal learning lead to and sustain racism in the film industry. However, agency on an individual level is observed as a way to break those patterns.


The findings highlight how individual agency pushes for more equality and diversity in the film industry, despite the barriers encountered on macro- and meso-levels. In addition, the important role of informal and formal learning through observation is stressed as a means to sustain the discriminatory practices in this industry.



Hennekam, S. and Syed, J. (2018), "Institutional racism in the film industry: a multilevel perspective", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 37 No. 6, pp. 551-565.



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