DISCRIMINATION. Methodological controversies and sociological perspectives on future research

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Field experiments have proved productive in documenting the continuing relevance of race and ethnicity in the shaping of opportunities in modern societies. However, methodological questions have been raised concerning the existence of unobservable variables and the subsequent danger of drawing inferences on a wrong basis. In this article, we address these debates and discuss a research strategy which to a large degree exceeds the challenges posed in the literature. By supplementing a correspondence test study with in-depth interviews with employers who were subjected to the fictitious job applicants in the experiment, we get access to the extent of discrimination in the labour market as well as to the mechanisms involved in discriminatory hiring practices. The design has several advantages compared to ‘singlemethod’ approaches and provides a more substantial understanding of the processes leading to ethnic inequality in the labour market.

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