Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Stephen R. Shalom
Affirmative action refers to programs designed to assist disadvantaged groups of people by giving them certain preferences. Affirmative action goes beyond banning negative treatment of members of specified disadvantaged groups to requiring some form of positive treatment in order to equalize opportunity. In the United States, beneficiaries of affirmative action programs have included African Americans and women, as well as Latinos/as, Native Americans, and Asian and Pacific Islanders. In India, members of “scheduled castes” (the lower-status castes) are the beneficiaries. Preferential treatment is also afforded to women in the European Union, “visible minorities” in Canada, the Maori in New Zealand, and the Roma in eastern Europe. Some affirmative action programs involve small preferences (such as placing job advertisements in African American newspapers to encourage members of a previously excluded group to apply for a job), whereas others can be substantial (going as far as restricting a particular job to members ...