The Organizational Bases of Discrimination

Awarded Scholars:
David Pedulla, Stanford University
Devah Pager, Harvard University
Project Date:
Jul 2017
Award Amount:

Employment discrimination remains a persistent problem for women and ethnic and racial minorities. Yet, there has been little research on the institutional channels through which patterns of discrimination are shaped.  For example, we do not know the extent to which firms with highly formalized recruitment procedures are more (or less) likely to discriminate against African American applicants, the extent to which firms with generous work-family policies are more (or less) likely to discriminate against mothers, or the extent to which affirmative action policies affect rates of discrimination among lower-skilled compared to higher-skilled applicants.

Sociologists David Pedulla and Devah Pager will examine how patterns of discrimination are shaped. They will study whether these patterns are shaped more by the beliefs or attitudes of individuals or by the context in which biased individuals operate.  They will determine how contexts shape and constrain the expression of bias, and explore why similar individuals may behave differently depending on prevailing norms, rules, or procedures in different organizations.


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