Affirmative Action (Public Administration)

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  • Among the most controversial of contemporary public policies, affirmative action (often called “positive discrimination” in Europe) seeks to aid traditionally marginalized (usually race-based) groups in gaining access to business or academic institutions. This can be achieved in a number of disparate ways; minorities may be given preferential treatment when applying to universities or certain occupations, or a certain quota can be set aside for their exclusive accommodation.

    Proponents of affirmative action argue that such policies are necessary for a variety of different reasons. First, preferential treatment may seek to explicitly address and ameliorate past prejudices, granting opportunities to the current generation that were cruelly denied their ancestors. Second, and perhaps more persuasively, proponents argue that regardless of historical discrimination, minority members continue to enter life ...

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