The paradox of decategorization: deinstitutionalizing race through race-based affirmative action in the United States
Ethnic and Racial Studies
GB : Routledge
1665 - 1681 p.
In the United States, the expression ‘affirmative action’ encompasses measures that grant a more or less flexible kind of preferential treatment in the allocation of scarce resources jobs, university admissions, and government contracts to the members of ascriptive groups formerly targeted for legal discrimination and currently underrepresented in positions of power and prestige. Whilst often justified as a way of compensating for past wrongs or of promoting cultural diversity, the policy is best understood as an instrument aimed at reducing the correlation between race and class. In this light, its ultimate goal would be to eradicate the specific disadvantage still produced by racial identification in US society, a disadvantage that arises from a set of negative expectations partly based on the existence of this correlation and from which no black individual is entirely insulated. A detailed presentation and defence of this alternative argument is provided, the empirical assumptions upon which it rests are identified, and some of its limitations are discussed.