Affirmative Action in the
Affirmative action has been at the center of the struggle over discrimination for nearly forty years. As we have seen, it has generated substantial controversy. An abundance of positive and negative views on the subject is available, but often those opinions are formed without a full understanding of the history of affirmative action, its various forms, and the legal framework within which it operates. Hopefully, this book will help to promote a greater understanding of those issues, although disagreement over the policy will likely endure as long as affirmative action continues.
The dispute over affirmative action exists largely because the policy seeks to influence the distribution of jobs, seats in colleges and universities, and other valued opportunities. The distribution of advantage that affirmative action is designed to alter, however, is one that has, in part, rested upon long-enduring patterns of discrimination that have been directed against racial and ethnic minorities and women. Affirmative action developed as a means of combating such discrimination and its effects. It consists of a variety of programs intended to assist minorities and women in job markets, admission to institutions of higher education, and other settings. Affirmative action involves efforts to reach out to members of groups that have historically suffered discrimination to encourage them to apply for jobs or other opportunities and in some instances to ensure that they receive training. Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, the policy