The Public Interest

"Affirmative action" reconsidered

Thomas Sowell

Winter 1976

IMAGES and labels have taken the place of facts in the controversies surrounding “affirmative action.” Words like “quota,” “qualified,” and under-utilization” are flung about, and defined in strange and tortuous ways; and images are conjured up of either massive benefits conferred on blacks and females at the expense of white males, or cynical evasions of “affirmative action” programs by employers whose discriminatory practices are ignored by inept or cowardly government agencies. For the academic world, there is the additional image of an old-boy network” through which professors are hired by their cronies. But despite an abundance of horror stories, there has been pathetically little analysis establishing the general conditions in the academic world before or after “affirmative action.”



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