Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action

By Frederick R. Lynch | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, THE UNIVERSITY, AND SOCIOLOGY

If we are to understand affirmative action fully, we must examine that policy's origins in its effects upon one of its primary sources: the academic community, especially the social sciences. How strongly did the spiral of silence and the New McCarthyism affect discussion and implementation of affirmative action in university settings? Did the universities practice what they preached on affirmative action? How actively did academicians, especially sociologists, study affirmative action, and what did they find?

It will be useful here to examine the university's links to the outside world, especially to politics. Of particular interest is the relationship between sociology and society. Sociology has been the flagship discipline of the welfare state and its philosophy. The fates of sociology, welfare-state liberalism, and affirmative action have been strongly interrelated.


THE UNIVERSITY AND WELFARE-STATE LIBERALISM

Although there has long been a general link between political liberalism and university life, the relationship became much stronger during the activist 1960s. Writing at the end of that decade, sociologist Alvin Gouldner observed that the politics of welfare-state liberalism had become the "official ideology" in wide sectors of the universities. This political establishment, he argued, has "reasons to lie" and is quite capable of functioning as an "intellectual mafia."

Political liberalism today instead verges on being an official ideology of wide sectors of the American university community as well as a broader strata of American life.

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