version history - Affirmative Action "Affirmative...

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Affirmative Action "Affirmative action" means positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded. When those steps involve preferential selection -- selection on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity -- affirmative action generates intense controversy. The development, defense, and contestation of preferential affirmative action has proceeded in two streams. One has been legal and administrative, as courts, legislatures, and executive departments of government have applied laws and rules requiring affirmative action. The other has been public debate, where the practice of preferential treatment has spawned a vast literature, pro and con. Often enough, the two streams have failed to make adequate contact, with the public quarrels not always very securely anchored in any existing legal basis or practice. The ebb and flow of public controversy over affirmative action can be pictured as two spikes on a line, the first spike representing a period of passionate debate that began around 1972 and tapered off after 1980, and the second indicating a resurgence of debate in the 1990s. The first spike encompassed controversy about gender and racial preferences alike. This is because in the beginning, affirmative action was as much about the factory, firehouse, and corporate suite as about the university campus. The second spike represents a quarrel about race. This is because the only burning issue now is about preferential admissions in higher education. [ 1 ] 1. In the Beginning 2. The Controversy Engaged 3. Rights and Consistency 4. Real-World Affirmative Action -- The Workplace 5. Real-World Affirmative Action -- The University 6. Equality 7. Diversity 8. Desert Confounded, Desert Misapplied Bibliography Other Internet Resources Related Entries 1. In the Beginning In 1972, affirmative action became an inflammatory public issue. True enough, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had made something called "affirmative action" a remedy federal courts could impose on violators of the Act. Likewise, since 1965, federal contractors had been subject to President Lyndon Johnson's Executive Order 11246, requiring them to take "affirmative action" to make sure they were not discriminating. But what did this 1965 mandate amount to? The Executive Order assigned to the Secretary of Labor the job of specifying rules of implementation. In the meantime, as the federal courts were enforcing the Civil Rights Act against discriminating companies, unions, and other institutions, the Department of Labor mounted an ad hoc attack on the construction industry, cajoling, threatening, negotiating, and generally strong-arming reluctant construction firms into a series of region-wide "plans," in which they committed themselves to numerical hiring goals. Through these contractor commitments, the Department could indirectly pressure recalcitrant labor unions, who
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This note was uploaded on 03/16/2012 for the course FENS 101 taught by Professor Selçukerdem during the Fall '12 term at Sabancı University.

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version history - Affirmative Action "Affirmative...

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