What is Affirmative Action?

In this thread there seems to be a serious disagreement over the factual question of what affirmative action is. (The question of whether AA is right or wrong is another topic, obviously suited to GD).

I claim that affirmative action, in its original concept and current usage, constitutes various methods by which governments and other organizations attempt to increase the proportion of certain ethnic and gender groups over what already exists, on the theory that the status quo is somehow inadequate or unjust. These methods range from “outreach” programs to explicit preferences to quotas.

I offer the following nonpartisan supporting links. We cannot appeal to any official definition of AA, because none exists, so we must look at how people actually use the term.





I also submit the following poorly reasoned rationale for saying that AA does not equal preferences. As far as I can tell, the argument seems to be that there are other preferences in the system that are not recognized as such, so we shouldn’t equate AA with preferences. Whether AA actually includes preferences is not addressed.


First of all, you link to a bunch of “standard” media sources and some right-wing sites. Since the media is overwhelmingly conservatively owned and run, the previous contains a significant redundancy. The Brookings Institute is extremely well known for having a particularly nasty extremist slant.

Perhaps you should do a search thru a broader range of sources first?

If you actually worked on a regular basis, like I have, with people who spent a large part of their life under officially segregated America, you’d know immediately which sources to trust and which not to.

The question really doesn’t belong here, as the definition of “affirmative action” does not have a specific, firmly delineable answer culturally or institutionally as evidenced by the differing ways it is defined and implemented by various institutions, from subtle front end weighting adjustments to not so subtle tacit quotas. This needs to be kicked back to GD.

Here are 26 definitions

Definitions of AFFIRMATIVE ACTION on the Web

Are you sure you have not confused Brookings with the Heritage Foundation (which I would characterize as extremely slanted to the Right) or to the Hoover Institute (that is, indeed, a conservative think tank, although lacking the venomous association with Richard Scaife that pulls the Heritage group into the extremes)?

The Brookings Institute is generally considered either mildly “liberal” or basically centrist. (Some people even dare to claim that it is actually even-handed.)

I’m hard-pressed to consider the Brookings Institution a ‘nasty extremist’ conservative organization. I’m practically a socialist and everything I’ve read by them (mostly relating to urban policy, as I’m a student studying planning) struck me as neutral or left-leaning.

I question the judgment of anyone who considers them nasty extremists.