Thursday, June 06, 2013

Affirmative Action

This article (H.T.: Paul) had this to say:

The interviewees in my study who were most angry about affirmative action were those who had relatively fewer marketable skills — and were therefore most dependent on getting an inside edge for the best jobs. Whites who felt entitled to these positions believed that affirmative action was unfair because it blocked their own privileged access.

This is almost certainly backwards. I believe her when she finds a negative correlation between "skills" and resistance to affirmative action. People with rare and highly specialized skills (me, for instance) aren't much threatened by gross racial quotas. There just aren't enough candidates for the kind of work we do from which to generate employment statistics by race, so in general nobody sees much value in worrying about it. (University teaching, where Diversity uber alles, is another matter.) But the other side is that social networks become much more important. Employers who might want to hire someone with my background are typically only going to higher one person, so it makes sense for them to use their networks to do it.

In contrast, down the skill chain, where there are a lot more positions and candidates to sort, employers rely much more on relatively straightforward metrics. I don't actually know, but I suspect that social networks play a diminished role. In contrast, however, racial quotas become much more of an issue. It is too easy for someone to notice -- and sue over -- racial imbalances. So the pressure to make sure the quotas are met increases.

3 comments:

trumwill said...

Well, those (well-to-do whites) that oppose affirmative action have to assuage any concern they have about the classist dynamics of it the policy. So, obviously, those hurt are losers.

It's not unlike that there's something screwy when a bunch of wealthy whites look at a bunch of struggling whites and think that the problem is privilege.

Honestly, AA doesn't really excite me all that much one way or the other. I used to be softly in favor, now I'm softly opposed. But (white) supporters need to be aware that they're primarily demanding sacrifice on the part of people less fortunate than they are for the sake of social justice, while they remain relatively immune.

trumwill said...

Ugh, that should say those whites that SUPPORT affirmative action

Dr. Φ said...

No problem. I routinely have to count on people reading in the missing inverses for my comments. ;-)