Racialisation occurs when different people, with different experiences, opinions and backgrounds are lumped into groups according to preconceptions based on for example external features (such as skin colour), culture and religion. When racialisation is analysed, race and ethnicity are understood as social constructions where so-called racialisation processes generate different racial identities and groups. These processes occur in both state institutions and everyday life.

Racialisation is not a new term in the academic world. However, it is rapidly gaining popularity also outside academia, where the term is often used as a description of a person as ‘racialised’. There is a risk that this way of using and understanding the term may remove the attention from precisely the racialisation processes that generate uniform groups of people with different backgrounds. Being a racialised person then becomes synonymous with being ‘an immigrant’, ‘non-white’ or some other label that has been used at some point to signal differentness among minority groups in Sweden (see also othering). This can lead to a situation where ‘white’, majority Swedes are not understood as racialised, which in turn hides the fact that racialisation processes result in systems and structures not only for oppression and discrimination but also for privileges and power positions. In other words, a situation in which people racialise each other is not characterised by symmetrical or equal relationships. The process and its consequences follow a racial hierarchy and whiteness norm (see also whiteness, norm/normcriticism).

One way to understand how also whiteness is constructed through racialisation processes is to talk about marked and unmarked positions. All bodies are racialised, but some (whites) are unmarked while others (non-whites) are marked through racialisation.

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