Sociology Index


Affirmative action is positive action or steps that are taken to increase the representation of women and minority groups in the areas where they have been historically excluded, like employment, education, and business. President John F. Kennedy's 1961 Executive Order 10925 requires federal contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." Affirmative action is an attempt to redress long history of discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made affirmative action a remedy federal courts could impose on violators of the Act. Affirmative action generates controversy when race, gender, and ethnicity is the basis of selection. Affirmative action describes the policies that are designed to actively promote the status and occupational participation of groups of people designated by shared characteristic.

Opposition To Affirmative Action

Opposition to affirmative action is based on the grounds of "reverse discrimination and unwarranted preferences." President Clinton strongly defended affirmative action, "Mend it, but don't end it." Defenders of affirmative action affirm that granting modest advantages to minorities and women is fair because they sufferred discrimination for hundreds of years. Affirmative action decisions are not based on quotas and they don't give any preference to unqualified candidates. Affirmative action decisions are not targeted to harm anyone through "reverse discrimination."

Resistance to Affirmative Action - Self-Interest or Racism
Cardell K. Jacobson, Department of Sociology, Brigham Young University, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 29, No. 2, 306-329 (1985)
In this article racial threat or self-interest, new symbolic racism, and old-fashioned racism are all found to be related to attitudes about affirmative action programs even when a variety of control variables are included in the regression analyses.

Manufacturing Discord: Media in the Affirmative Action Debate 
Robert M. Entman, The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 2, No. 4, (1997)
Depictions of intense conflict between African-Americans and whites have framed the news media's coverage of the public debate over affirmative action. The conflict frame does not describe the complicated, ambivalent state of white opinion as registered by the mechanism of sample surveys. The conflict frame misrepresents any substantive clash of interests created by affirmative action policies.

A Theory of Affirmative Action in College Admissions - Qiang Fu
Fu: Assistant Professor, Department of Business Policy, National University of Singapore
We show that an academic quality-oriented college maximizes the test score of its incoming class by adopting an admissions rule that favors the minority. A "handicapping" rule increases competition and induces candidates to invest more in educational attainment. We show that the non-minority responds to the affirmative action admissions more aggressively.

Affirmative action and other special consideration admissions at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine - R. C. Davidson and E. L. Lewis - Department of Family and Community Medicine.
The use of race as a criterion for admission to medical schools and other professional schools has become increasingly controversial. This study documents the experience of students at one medical school, admitted through a special admissions process that included race as one consideration.

Shannon Harper and, Barbara Reskin, Department of Sociology, University of Washington
Affirmative action addresses individuals' exclusion from equality of opportunity based on group membership by taking into account race, sex, ethnicity, and other characteristics. This chapter reviews sociological, economic, historical, and legal scholarship on affirmative action. We summarize the research on affirmative action in education and in employment. As public and judicial support for affirmative action has waned, employers and educators have increasingly turned toward diversity as a rationale for including underrepresented groups.

Black Applicants' Reactions to Affirmative Action Plans: Influence of Perceived Procedural Fairness, Anticipated Stigmatization, and Anticipated Remediation of Previous Injustices 
Slaughter, Jerel E.; Bulger, Carrie A.; Bachiochi, Peter D. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Volume 35, Number 12, December 2005.
Abstract: This research was conducted to understand why Black applicants might react negatively to affirmative action plans designed to benefit them.

Support for Race-Based Affirmative Action: Self-Interest and Procedural Justice - Aberson C. L. - Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Volume 33, Number 6, 1 June 2003.
Examines attitudes toward affirmative action. Hypotheses related to self-interest concerning perceptions of the benefits of affirmative action and hypotheses derived from procedural justice research regarding the structure of policy statements. A survey of undergraduate and graduate student participants found greater perception of benefits resulting from affirmative action policies, defined in terms of increased opportunity and increased satisfaction. Policies presented with justification received more support than did policies presented without justification.

Faye J. Crosby, Sirinda Sincharoen, University of California and  Aarti Iyer, University of Exeter. Affirmative action is a controversial and often poorly understood policy. We outline how affirmative action operates in employment and education settings and consider the major points of controversy. Why affirmative action is needed. How affirmative action can have unintended negative consequences. How affirmative action programs can be successful. We review how psychologists have examined variations in people's attitudes toward affirmative action.

Framing Affirmative Action - The Influence of Race on Newspaper Editorial Responses to the University of Michigan Cases - John D. Richardson, University of Colorado, Karen M. Lancendorfer, Michigan State University. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 9, No. 4, 74-94 (2004). A content analysis of U.S. newspaper editorials examined framing of U.S. Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action at the University of Michigan. Remedial action and no preferential treatment, frames dominating affirmative action discourse in news media from the 1960s to 1990s, were overshadowed in 2003 newspaper editorials by diversity, a frame asserting that a mix of racially and ethnically different people serves to strengthen organizations and society.

Gender, Race, and Affirmative Action - Operationalizing Intersectionality in Survey Research - Amy C. Steinbugler, Temple University, Julie E. Press, Janice Johnson Dias, University of Michigan - Gender & Society, Vol. 20, No. 6, 805-825 (2006).
The authors operationalize the intersection of gender and race in survey research. They investigate how gender/racial stereotypes about African Americans affect Whites’ attitudes about two types of affirmative action programs, job training and education and hiring and promotion. Gender/racial prejudice towards Black women and Black men influences Whites’ opposition to affirmative action at different levels than negative attitudes towards Blacks as a group.

Affirmative Action and Percent Plans as Alternatives for Increasing Successful Participation of Minorities in Higher Education - Jorge Chapa, Latino Studies at Indiana University, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Vol. 4, No. 3, (2005). Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Grutter decision, universities must now make the judgment that student diversity is essential to their educational mission.

United States: Supreme Court rules on affirmative action 
Mark Tushnet, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown University Law Center, International Journal of Constitutional Law 2004 2(1). Affirmative action, Fourteenth Amendment and equal protection clause, distributive and corrective justice rejected as basis for affirmative action, history of affirmative action cases, diversity; "critical mass" versus quota, comparative constitutional considerations.

Job queues, discrimination, and affirmative action 
TO Bisping and JR Fain, Department of Economics, Oklahoma State University, USA
If employers have different Becker-type discrimination coefficients for different demographic groups, then the implementation of affirmative action may have a differential impact on those groups. We find that a job queue existed before the implementation of affirmative action and that affirmative action changed the ordering of the job queue in manner that had a negative impact on nonwhite males.

Affirmative Action Under Fire - The Current Controversy and the Potential for State Policy Retrenchment
J. Edward Kellough, University of Georgia, Sally Coleman Selden, Syracuse University, Jerome S. Legge, University of Georgia. Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 17, No. 4. The controversy over affirmative action has grown to such a point in recent years that many observers have questioned whether the policy can long endure. This article examines the rise of recent anti-affirmative action policy proposals. A modest positive relationship is found between the size of a state's minority population and the expression of anti-affirmative action sentiment.