A major challenge for researchers studying racism is measuring the consequences of this macro-level phenomenon in people’s everyday lives. For the purposes of this post we define structural racism as a system of racialized advantage and disadvantage underlying and structuring multiple domains of life, including housing, interactions with government, education, the criminal legal system, and more.,,,, Structural racism does not refer to individual prejudices or discriminatory beliefs. Rather, it is a macro-level phenomenon: a principle upon which structures in our society are built. When researchers study racism as a structural force, its impacts in any one area affect and reinforce impacts in every other area.

The consequences of structural racism for individuals are well-documented; for example, research shows structural racism produces poorer health outcomes for racialized groups. However, research often focuses on a single aspect of structural racism, such as police brutality, and struggles to capture the full impact of this multidimensional phenomenon. Measures used to assess impacts of structural racism typically differ by domain, and while robust research documents these impacts, it can also be difficult to capture the mechanisms through which they occur.

Time -- specifically time use -- is a type of data that can unite studies of structural racism across domains and offer a glimpse into how this macro-level force acts on individuals.