Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service

Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service

Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service

Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service

Synopsis

Diversity and affirmative action are subjects that tend to elicit some form of emotion, either strongly supportive or strongly opposed. In Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service, Walter Broadnax has drawn together a collection of essays that provides the reader with a historical overview of the evolution of these concepts within a public service context. The book opens with a discussion of representative bureaucracy and, using that material as a backdrop, proceeds to provide highly useful snapshots of the evolution of these concepts over the last several decades. The reader will be able to see clearly how the debate regarding this important topic has changed and matured over the last thirty years. The introduction and the individual chapter introductions bring together the perspectives of the practitioner and the academician. Many of the selected pieces have strong practical applications, and a substantial number of them were written by practitioners themselves.

Excerpt

As readers examine this volume, they will discover that there are five sections and the subject matter ranges from a discussion of representative bureaucracy and equal employment opportunity to aging and disabilities as an important aspect of diversity and affirmative action in the United States. Each section provides a somewhat different perspective on the subject of differences, particularly differences found in a public service context. However, the themes of equal opportunity, diversity, and affirmative action run through each chapter and take on their own nuance in relation to the overall theme--strategies for inclusion of those seeking greater entry or access to active participation in the American public service.

The study of public administration is a relatively young enterprise, having only emerged within the political science literature near the turn of the century. The literature began to develop and accumulate until in 1939 the Public Administration Review (PAR) was founded. Since that time the field has continued to grow and develop. However, when one looks closely at the many and varied contributions published in this important journal, one finds that a quite small number of articles have been devoted to race, ethnicity, gender, or differences in general. This fact begs the question: Should one be surprised by the relatively small number of scholarly products presented in this particular forum between 1939 and 1999? Well, probably not, because we must remember that it has only been roughly forty years since segregation was declared illegal. Therefore, on the one hand, it only makes sense that the number of contributions might be smaller for this specific domain. On the other hand, the subject of race and differences has captured a substantial amount of our national psychic energy. And yet, it seems to occupy such a small part of the scholarly materials produced between the inception of PAR and now. One hint as to why may be found in the number of minorities pursuing scholarship in this policy and management arena as well as the discomfort the subject often causes, still, in polite society within our country today.

Diversity, race, and gender are words that elicit for most Americans images of struggle, strife, and even violence. Whether we are talking about the antebellum South or the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, ending discrimination has been a long and difficult struggle, and too often that struggle has been etched with violence. However, it was out of a violent period in our . . .

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