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Harvard survey over 15 years finds Czechs are Europe's biggest racists, critics question its methodology

19.5.2017 13:28
A graph from the Harvard University study released in 2017 that found Czechs to be Europe's most latently racist group.
A graph from the Harvard University study released in 2017 that found Czechs to be Europe's most latently racist group.

The Czech Republic has come in first place in a notorious category, that of latent racism, according to the "Map of Racism", a survey conducted by the Implicit Association Test being conducted by Harvard University in the USA which was first published by the UK-based portal The Conversation. According to the survey, racism is rooted much more significantly in the minds of the Czech respondents than it is in the minds of the respondents from other European nations.

The data are from a study conducted over 15 years, based on the principle of associative ascription of negative and postive concepts wih specific human faces. In the test, which was participated in by more than 250 000 people with white complexions, the countries of the former Soviet bloc scored worst, while respondents from England and Scandinavian countries showed a lesser degree of latent racism.

According to experts, this is caused by the fact that during their decades of isolation from the outside world, the inhabitants of what are today the formerly communist countries either never or only rarely came into contact with foreign nationals who looked different or who practiced different cultural customs, and even today they encounter them only exceptionally in their everyday lives on a personal basis. Another role is said to be played by the fact that we are all "infected" by prejudice starting in childhood which then resonates throughout the society-wide discourse.

"What is considered a normal remark for a President to make in the Czech Republic would be a scandal if it were made abroad. How we talk about matters has an enormous influence, especially when we have no personal experience of them," news server Aktualne.cz cited sociologist Daniel Prokop of the Median agency as saying in response to the survey.

After the study was published, opinions have been expressed that its methodology is not absolutely objective, which those who designed it have apparently acknowledged. The respondents volunteered for the study, and there was a different number of participants from each country, with 819 persons from the Czech Republic specifically signing up for it.

Prokop said that "it is not clear how the sample was chosen, whether it's not just an online survey that people join on their own." He also pointed out that the opinion of several hundred people is not necessarily a representative sample of the Czech population's mindset.

The Czech Republic faces, as do other Central and East European states, longterm criticism over racism and xenophobia from officials in the European Union. Recently societal debates have been sparked in the Czech Republic on the topic of the dehumanization of "other races" and racism after a dispute erupted here over the model Alpha Dia, originally from Senegal and living in Hamburg, Germany, who featured in a much-criticized Czech advertisement, or the Miss Finland competition this year, which was won by a Finnish citizen of Congolese origin.

adg, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Czech Republic, EU, Racism, Průzkum



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