affirmative action

(noun) The practice of giving preferential treatment (e.g., education or employment) to underrepresented groups such as the disabled, the elderly, ethnic minorities, and women who have experienced discrimination in the past.

Example: Extending admission offers to ethnic minority students at a university over applicants in the ethnic majority who may have higher test scores and GPAs.

Audio Pronunciation: (af·fir·ma·tive ac·tion)

Download Audio Pronunciation: affirmative action.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Affirmative action as a term began when John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) signed Executive Order 10925 on March 6th, 1961, that mandated, “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” Women were not afforded these same protections until Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) signed Executive Order 11375 on October 13, 1967. It is important to note that these two laws only effected the federal workforce and government contracts, not the entire working public.
  • Also called:
    • positive discrimination (particularly in the United Kingdom).
    • reverse discrimination

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References

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

Kendall, Diane. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson.

McNamee, Stephen J., and Robert K. Miller, Jr. 2013. The Meritocracy Myth. 3rd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Stevens, Gillian. 2011. “diversity.” Pp. 154 in The Concise Encyclopedia of Sociology, edited by G. Ritzer and J. Ryan. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

 

Works Consulted

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Brym, Robert J., and John Lie. 2007. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Dillon, Michele. 2014. Introduction to Sociological Theory: Theorists, Concepts, and their Applicability to the Twenty-First Century. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2011. Sociology: The Core. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

Kendall, Diane. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

 

How to Cite the Definition of Affirmative Action

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “affirmative action.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 14, 2018 (https://sociologydictionary.org/affirmative-action/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

affirmative action. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/affirmative-action/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “affirmative action.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 14, 2018. https://sociologydictionary.org/affirmative-action/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“affirmative action.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 14 Dec. 2018. <https://sociologydictionary.org/affirmative-action/>.