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Type: Journal article
Title: Policy and discourse: challenging the construction of affirmative action as preferential treatment
Author: Bacchi, C.
Citation: Journal of European Public Policy, 2004; 11(1):128-146
Publisher: Routledge
Issue Date: 2004
ISSN: 1350-1763
Statement of
Carol Bacchi
Abstract: This paper uses debates around affirmative/positive action to offer insights into the usefulness and limitations of discourse approaches to policy analysis. It illustrates that a particular understanding of affirmative action as preferential treatment has become hegemonic. This understanding relies upon a view that background social rules are generally fair, and that members of groups targeted by affirmative action need ‘special help’ to succeed. The basis of the privilege of dominant social groups is invisible in this conceptualization. The ubiquity of this understanding reveals the extent to which large numbers of social actors, including many who claim to be committed to substantive structural change, accept the premises of equal opportunity. My goal is to achieve a rebalancing in thinking about the relationship between discourse and political subjectivity by emphasizing the embeddedness, the taken-for-granted status, of certain belief systems. This rebalancing signals the need for reformers to interrogate closely the conceptual frameworks which shape their proposals.
Keywords: Affirmative action
norm entrepreneurs
positive action
preferential treatment
social construction.
DOI: 10.1080/1350176042000164334
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 6
Politics publications

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