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Les origines de l'affirmative action dans l'emploi (1964-1969)

Daniel Sabbagh
Revue française d'études américaines
No. 81, L'Affirmative Action en question (JUIN 1999), pp. 6-24
Published by: Editions Belin
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20874610
Page Count: 19
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Les origines de l'affirmative action dans l'emploi (1964-1969)
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Abstract

The introduction of affirmative action policies in employment at the very end of the 1960s runs directly counter to the principle of non-discrimination that had been incorporated into statutory law by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The present article attempts to throw some light on the causal dynamics that led to such a swift reversal. It argues that, despite some enduring misunderstandings, preferential treatment on the basis of race was never considered by the Johnson Administration. Nor can it be plausibly interpreted as the result of a hidden arrangement made by the economic elites of the two main racial groups with a view to preserving the existing social order. The emergence of affirmative action should rather be understood as the contingent product of two analytically distinct factors: first, a perception on the part of the American administration of the existence of an ongoing political crisis, which led it to look favorably upon any measure that might shortly better the economic predicament of the Black community and thereby prevent the re-occurrence of riots such as those of the 1965-1968 period; second, and most importantly, the electoral tactics of President Richard Nixon.

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