Affirmative Action and Race Relations Research Proposal

Pages: 15 (4601 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Race

Affirmative Action and Race Relations

Affirmative action, in higher education and elsewhere has been a hotly debated issue, since its inception, among a group of minority faculty and faculty organization from U.S. law schools conceived of the need for forcing social change through guided plans and procedures that would make up for missing opportunities for racial minorities, a year prior to Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. (Sander, 2004, p. 367) Since then there have been many legal challenges to Affirmative Action, the moniker given to the general guide of the plan, which was tailored significantly by nearly every university and many other institutions independently. The specific and individual affirmative action plans, of many institutions have been challenged, supported, challenged and struck down in several supreme court case, the most recent pairing being Grutter V Bollinger and Gratz V Bollinger, where affirmative action in one regard was struck down and in another (more tailored/goal oriented) application upheld. This work will first review and critique research based on the concepts of affirmative action in higher education. It will then move on to develop an independent research proposal to answer questions regarding affirmative action and finally it will review and discuss the breadth and depth of Grutter V Bollinger and Gratz V Bollinger and how they impact affirmative action and business.

It would seem that there have been as many challenges and debates with regard to affirmative action policies as there have been research studies on the subject of its effectiveness and therefore validity. Regardless of this fact there are also a significant number of researchers who seek to answer what they view as more important questions regarding affirmative action, not the least of which is does it help or hurt the minority population, or the majority population and has it been at all effective in eliminating discrimination in the broader society, institutionally or in business. The following research proposal will attempt to answer an enduring question associated with some of the broader questions of affirmative action namely; Is affirmative action policy implementation destructive to race relations in higher education and/or business? This question seems to be at the root of research, debate and conflict associated with affirmative action, and must garner some sort of answer for the development of a future for race relations and the role of affirmative action in decision making for admissions or hiring.

Review of Literature

Affirmative action and education, then is a significant issue, with regard to prior research, as such research can potentially help demonstrate, both the breadth of the questions being asked by it about affirmative action and what is yet to be asked, with regard to its effectiveness or derisiveness. In many ways this question is not answered, regardless of the breadth of the research, as both answers can be derived from the literature, as well as answers with considerable lists of contingencies, mostly regarding the type and application of affirmative action policies. Few if any research articles, contingent answers or not address the specific issue of race relations with regard to the application of affirmative action policies.

This first research article attempts to look at recipient reactions to affirmative action (AA) based admissions decisions, where admissions was offered contingent on affirmative action policies. In the review work Turner found that recipients of admission based on AA policies the author reviewed work from four specific areas of reactions "(a) self-evaluations of ability and performance, (b) motivation and task interest, - performance and achievement, and (d) evaluations of selection procedures." (Turner, 1994, p. 43) According to Turner the findings of this review indicate that the process of implementation of AA affected the responses of recipients in all four of the areas of reaction.

Self-evaluations of ability and specific components of performance were adversely affected when selection procedures did not provide unambiguous, explicit, and focused evidence of recipient qualifications. In contrast, measures of motivation were largely unaffected by any type of selection, although task choice was adversely affected when the selection process did not provide clear evidence of recipient qualifications. Task performance was complexly affected by selection process and other contextual variables. Finally, selection procedures that did not provide unambiguous, explicit, and focused evidence of qualifications were regarded by recipients as less fair than procedures that did not provide evidence of competencies. (Turner, 1994, p. 43)

In other words, the contingency of the application of AA policies in the above study indicate that AA application needs, in order to be positively viewed by recipients, to give those involved direct and transparent evidence of why they were selected for admission, i.e. why the university believes that they would be successful in their course of study. This contingency does not seem illogical, nor does transparency seem inapplicable to improved or at least unaffected race relations. If both parties (minority and majority) utilize unfounded assumption rather than probability and fact to determine why one student was admitted while another was not then they are both likely to be resentful of the process and resistant to its use, possibly even building a case for a deterioration of race relations rather than improvement of it.

Taylor in an employment rather than education-based study claims that the study was conducted on real subjects of AA policy hiring to better understand claims of the possible negative effect of AA employment polices on minority students, described as "debilitating social psychological effects." The researcher also questions the utilization of laboratory-based research on the questions of AA as such conditions do not hold any of the real motivational or psychosocial investment feelings of a real situation of employment. Those in the real situation have a much greater vested interest in the results of AA polices than do those in a theoretical setting.

This study takes a different approach to assessing the impact of affirmative action on beneficiaries. For White women and African-American employees of both sexes, we use 1990 General Social Survey data to compare workers whose employers practice affirmative action with those whose employers do not. Data from this national probability sample give no indication that benefiting from affirmative action has negative effects for either group on any social psychological outcome examined. African-American workers did show two positive effects of employment at an affirmative-action firm, with one clearly significant and the other nearly so: Those whose employers practice affirmative action (a) show greater occupational ambition and (b) are more likely to believe that people are helpful. Claims that affirmative action blights the psychological functioning of beneficiaries are not supported by these survey responses from a national probability sample. (Taylor, 1994, p. 143)

Taylor's findings demonstrate that, according to the application of AA studied here, there is no negative race relations issues in employment, and that most aspects or outcomes are significantly positive for minority hires.

In another study, along the same line as the first the researchers again asked questions of minority recipients with regard to their perceptions of the application of AA policies for admission. The study was conducted at a predominantly white university, to see how black students perceived the process of AA based admissions to a university.

422 questionnaires were sent out to African-American College students at a large, urban, public, comprehensive research university in the southern region of the United States. 400 questionnaires were completed for a response rate of 95%. The data revealed that a majority of the respondents felt race preferences should be used in making admission decisions at predominantly White colleges and universities. More significantly, all the respondents agreed that Affirmative Action and not a lower grade point should be used as part of university admissions decisions. (Antwi-Boasiako & Asagba, 2005, p. 734)

The development of the research findings indicate that again there are mostly positive outcomes, with regard to minorities who have been selected for admissions based, at least in part on race. The recipients felt that merit issues, such as lower GPA than a majority student seeking admission was not an appropriate guide, but that race should continue to be considered. In other words they do not wish to be given favor over students base don academic achievement but still wish their race to be considered as they obviously view it as a source of lost or limited opportunity, in a broader sense and feel that is needs to be made up for in some way.

Sander, in a review of research opens his work with the most important and logical "call for research" that was observed by this researcher in seeking information on this subject. Sander contends that all the debates regarding AA and its use in higher education and employment need to be inclusive of even the most difficult of questions to answer about AA and its effects, in Sander's words answers to the 35-year "social experiment" titled affirmative action. Namely:

What would have happened to minorities receiving racial preferences had the preferences not existed? How much do the preferences affect what schools students attend, how much they learn, and what types of jobs… [END OF PREVIEW]

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