Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963992 | Print ISBN: 9781412906784 | Online ISBN: 9781412963992 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In the United States, affirmative action refers to policies designed to increase social, political, economic, and educational opportunities for groups that have historically been excluded based on various ascriptive and descriptive characteristics including “race,” ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, skin color, disability, age, and sexual orientation. Typically, organizations that benefit from federal funding are admonished to review their recruitment programs for compliance with equal opportunity laws and constitutional rights. Affirmative action regulations do not endorse quota systems and instead encourage use of pragmatic diversity initiatives that minimize intergroup conflict and maximize diverse talent contribution. Affirmative action policies are recognized as proactive attempts to remedy historical and contemporary discrimination against subordinate groups who have been denied access to public and private benefits normally available to dominant groups. Though the emphasis of these policies is on creating subordinate group access to opportunity, the hope is that subordinate group representation will increase to ...