Social Policy: Affirmative Action

Social Policy: Affirmative Action

Social Policy consists of the set of law and regulation that target better condition for everyone. The role of social policy is to solve problems that disrupt expectation of how people should live. In the history of the US, there have been social policies formulated to improve human welfare, such policies touch on economic, justice and healthcare. Among commonly known social policies include Food Stamps, Affirmative Action, Medicaid, TANF, AFDC and EITC among others. This paper will explore the nature of theaffirmative action and its application in the US.

Social Problem and History of the Policy

Affirmative Action is a set of guidelines and policies that target the end discrimination of any nature in certain parts of the society. The set of policies includes government mandates, sanction and avoluntary subscription to granting equality in employment, education, and usage of public resources to all people. In the US, Affirmative Action does not focus on any single Quota, but the target objectives to eliminate the impact of past discrimination. Affirmative action seeks to solve the historical form of discrimination that characterizes the American society. It is theproduct of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1940s. The movement led to theconcept of anti0descriminatory society, the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended several forms of discrimination (Pierce, 2014). The improvement opened to thepath to more conscious policies like the Revised Philadelphia Plan. Similar policies emerged with related goals leading to a set of rules called the Affirmative Action. Voluntary and state policies add to the range of laws, these Acts have the support of the Supreme Court and applies on thecourt decision. While the idea of concepts of Affirmative Action originated during the Reconstruction Era, it continued to develop and touched on several parts of the society, with the main objective being the realization of equality to all people irrespective of race, gender or social class.

Theories behind Affirmative Action

Based on the prevailing philosophies of the time, several models of justice emerged with John Rawls publishing his paper on Theory of Justice, an application of the normative theory of political governance of the people. The Philosophy of Public Affairs also emerged in the same year. The debate shifted to how the two theories can apply in therealization of a better society. Johns Rawls theory of Justice-as-Fairness summarizes the emergence of thinking channeled to the realization of equality (Akella, 2012). Debates called for equality in thetreatment of all people a path to the realization of justice that missing the American society.  The principles enshrined by the two theories gave no room to “to-class” protection under the same; the best move was to grant equality to all people irrespective of their ethnic background

Objectives of the Policy

The initial role of Affirmative Action was the improvement of employment opportunities for the African Americans. In a Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education, the court outlawed discrimination in Education; this increased the prospects for African Americans (Akella, 2012). The baseline for Affirmative Action was to compensate for the centuries of slavery, racial discrimination and economic oppression of the minority population. The policy seemed as ananswer to the disparities. Generally, the argument for its existence is that social disparities gave people or a particular race more opportunities and chances of progress than the others did. Supporters of the policy believed that certain groups of people are often in the lower social class, thus, they are greatly disadvantaged. The affirmative action does not only create an environment for competition based on merit but also compensates for the individual disadvantages.

Policy Maker’s Expectations

Policy makers expected through granting to equality to all people, the move will an answer to the questions raised by Civil Rights Movements. At the time affirmative action came to power, there was a need to solve the problem of disparities. Traditionally, American society was divided along racial lines, White having more opportunities to succeed than the minority groups. More whites were getting access to education, better economic status and enjoyed public resources (Akella, 2012). The policy makers expected that Affirmative action would create more avenues for the traditional underprivileged minority population. With focus as granting equal education, employment, and treatment while compensating for the historical setbacks, the policy maker expected that Affirmative Action would reset the society and introduce the concept of fairness as the foundation of the society.

Target Population

Affirmative Action focused on the minority population, starting with the Africa Americans who were still suffering from the implication of slavery. While the constitution claimed equality, such a notion was not evidenced in public interaction. Discrimination continued to a feature of the American society even after the abolition of discriminatory practices. The minority had less access to education and employment, Affirmative Action focused minority population, with the objective increasing access to the basic services. Affirmative Action served to further reduce discriminatory practices against the minority.

Intended Affects

Affirmative Action is more of a process than just a code of conduct, the intended effects were increasing the presence of minority population in theinstitution of higher learning. With the achievement of higher education, the target population would secure more employment opportunities and compete favorably with traditionally advantage population. It noted that a section of the population was advantaged by default; the intended effect was to correct the social inequality by granting more opportunities to the low-income.

Changes in the distribution of material resources

The results of the Affirmative Action was the redistribution of resources among all social groups. Affirmative Action shifted resources to service of the disadvantaged people. It contributed to the increased education chances and employment of minority population. More of minority started to acquire education diplomas. With agood education, minority began to take part in national affairs such as policy formulation. The results of the policies correction for years of inequality, a social dimension that remained a problem despite Supreme proclamation of justice for all.

Alternative Polices

Alternatives have emerged to affirmative action. Earlier, thefocus was on making adecision based on race consciousness. However, with development, the society begun to realize the need for a race-blind system is people are to actually have equality. New alternative seek to base judgement of fairness on concepts of race neutrality (Pierce, 2014). This will call for changes on theconcept of Affirmative Action that grants favoritism due to historical burdens to contemporary dynamics in society.



Akella, D. (2012). Mandal commission agitations: a comparison of affirmative action programs of USA and India: a case study. International Journal Of Business And Globalisation9(4), 461.

Pierce, J. (2014). The History of Affirmative Action in the USA: A Teaching and Learning Guide. Sociology Compass8(1), 89-98.








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