The Equality Authority and the Economic and Social Research Institute published a study on experiences of discrimination among the general population in Ireland. The study draws on a survey of over 24,600 people carried out by the Central Statistics Office in 2004.
The survey asked individuals whether they had experienced discrimination in nine different settings or domains over the previous two years: while looking for work, in the workplace, obtaining housing or accommodation, using banks/financial services, shops, pubs or restaurants, accessing health services, education, transport services and ‘other’ public services. Self-reported discrimination does not correspond to illegal discrimination. It is left to respondents themselves to decide whether they have been discriminated:
Discrimination takes place when one person or a group of persons are treated less favourably than others because of their gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, ‘race’ – skin colour or ethnic group, sexual orientation, religious belief, and/or membership of the Traveller community.
The advantage of this survey approach is that it provides information across a range of social contexts and reports discrimination across the whole population, not just disadvantaged groups or minority groups. It provides us with data on forms of discrimination not asked about before, some of which is very difficult to detect using other methods. The main limitation of this approach is that the judgement of whether discrimination has occurred is subjective.