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The term was developed by the U.S. sociologist Rosabeth Moss Kanter in the late 1970s. It denotes when marginalized persons (unintentionally) take on a token function within groups. Tokens are not regarded as individuals, they are merely instrumentalized as representatives of "their" supposed group and thus reduced to their supposed identity categories. Through tokenism, groups or institutions present themselves to the outside world as emancipated and diverse in order to receive recognition for this, but the privileged people can continue to secure their position of power and privilege within the structure. Tokenism heavily affects the person’s mental and physical health, as it pushes them into a stereotypical role where they might feel dehumanised.

The following links provide an overview of the topic of tokenism:


Multicultural Essentials: Tokenism