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To what extent can it be claimed that "positive discrimination" towards disadvantaged ethnic groups is an advisable government policy?

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Introduction

To what extent can it be claimed that "positive discrimination" towards disadvantaged ethnic groups is an advisable government policy? (25 marks) Positive discrimination or "affirmative action" is defined as policies and programs meant as a corrective measure to redress discrimination against certain groups in society in the name of fairness and equal opportunities. Ethnic Groups, as defined by Yinger, refer to: "A segment of a larger society that is different in some combination of language, religion, race and ancestral homeland with its related culture" In order to decide to what extent Positive Discrimination in favor of disadvantaged ethnic groups is an advisable government policy, one needs to refer to the various sociological perspectives and their views of society. Functionalists such as David and Moore would argue against Positive Discrimination, on the basis that society rewards those who work hard and are capable- through the meritocratic system. "New Right" "sociologists" arguing against Positive Discrimination would believe that ethnic minorities are disadvantaged because of their own doing, through laziness and a refusal to integrate. Marxist sociologists would argue in favor of Positive Discrimination on the basis that Racism is a social construction used to subjugate other classes. Left-wingers and social democrats would argue that Positive Discrimination is needed to cancel out the effects of racism and ethnic prejudice on the life chances of ethnic minorities. ...read more.

Middle

Murray and Herrstein, who advocated the elimination of welfare programs in "The Bell Curve" based on the argument that it allowed women with lower IQ's to produce children with equally low IQ's, would probably use the same argument to advocate the abolition of Positive Discrimination, as it would allow ethnic minorities with lower IQ's to produce offspring of the same stripe. "New Right Sociologists" would argue that this would be a disadvantage to the government as it would lead to an eventual reduction in the nation's talent pool. However, it is important to note that the methodology used in the production of "The Bell Curve" is both dubious and highly doubtful. This is most vividly illustrated by the article Inequality by Design, written by the Sociology Department of UC Berkeley, which claims that the statistics used by Murray and Herrstein were flawed due to omissions and technical errors. On the other hand, "New Right Sociologists" also argue that ethic groups are disadvantaged because they refuse to integrate into their host society. A refusal to integrate may include a refusal to take on the norms and values of the host culture; or to learn the language. This prevents them from seeking opportunities and hence leaving them at a disadvantage. "New Right Sociologists" would henceforth argue that the state would have no responsibility whatsoever for self-made choices, and therefore that Positive Discrimination would be pointless and a waste of both time and resources. ...read more.

Conclusion

This clearly shows that Positive Discrimination in favor of disadvantaged groups is desirable as it allows for the disadvantages caused by ethnic discrimination and its knock-on effects to be limited if not redressed, hence increasing the nation's pool of talent and preventing those who are capable from languishing behind due to disadvantageous conditions. Henceforth it can be said that Positive Discrimination in favor of disadvantaged ethnic minorities is both beneficial and disadvantageous depending on which perspective it is viewed from. However, it could be concluded with a degree of certainty that Positive Discrimination in favor of ethnic minorities is both a good government policy and advantageous to the country in question- as it allows ethnic minorities put at a disadvantage to compete on what amounts to nearer grounds to those from other ethnic groups that may enjoy an advantage, whether it be through wealth, power or better overall life chances. This allows for the meritocratic principles of Functionalism to occur on fair and even grounds- facilitating competition for roles and jobs between everyone on fair and even terms, hence allowing the best and brightest, regardless of ethnicity, to reach the very top and bring mutual benefits for society as a whole. ?? ?? ?? ?? Edwin Loo 12K 23/01/2007 Sociology Essay Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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