Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence

By Fred L. Pincus; Howard J. Ehrlich | Go to book overview
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wise and unnecessary to eliminate affirmative action programs in order to strengthen the psychological well-being of successful black employees.

Criticisms of affirmative action do not come only from conservatives. Some liberal and Marxist critics have argued that race-specific policies such as affirmative action are undesirable because they tend to prevent the formation of multiracial political coalitions. What is needed, they argue, are universalistic policies that benefit everybody. Calls for a national public works program to provide more jobs for everyone, for example, would be preferable to demanding that blacks get preference for the few existing jobs.

What is really needed, in my judgment, is a combination of universalistic programs and affirmative action. Universalistic policies alone would still leave minorities at a disadvantage relative to whites. On the other hand, white support for affirmative action would send a signal to minorities that whites are genuinely interested in racial equality. This, in turn, would encourage minorities to join multiracial coalitions to fight for universalistic programs.

As long as race continues to be a dominant factor in American life, affirmative action will be a necessary tool in the struggle for racial equality.

The following discussion is based on my review of federal affirmative action guidelines and on discussions with several OFCCP officials in 1992.
The following discussion of affirmative action violators is based on an annual list, "Companies Ineligible for Federal Contracts Under the Regulations of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs," that is compiled by the OFCCP each year. See Pincus ( 1993) for full details.


Bates, Timothy ( 1993) Banking on Black Enterprise: The Potential of Emerging Firms for Revitalizing Urban Economies. Washington, D.C.: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Beer, William R. ( 1987) "Resolute Ignorance: Social Science and Affirmative Action." Society (May-June): 63-69.

Beller, Andrea H. ( 1978) "The Economics of Enforcement of an Antidiscrimination Law: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." Journal of Law and Economics 21 ( 2): 359-380.

Bonner, Ethan ( 1997) "Little Impact on Doctors' Careers Is Seen from Affirmative Action." New York Times, Oct. 8: A1, 22.

Boyes-Watson, Carolyn ( 1994) "False Dichotomies: Affirmative Action and Meritocratic Hiring in Academia." Paper presented at the 64th Annual Convention of the Eastern Sociological Society, Baltimore, MD, March 17-20.

Brimelow, Peter, and Leslie Spencer ( 1993) "When Quotas Replace Merit, Everybody Suffers." Forbes, Feb. 15: 80-102.

Campbell, Paulette Walker ( 1997) "Minority Applications to Medical School Drop in States Without Affirmative Action." Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 14: A46.


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Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence
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