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The Politics of Affirmative Action
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The Politics of Affirmative Action
'Women', Equality and Category Politics


December 1996 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"Carol Lee Bacchi takes a social constructionist view of categories such as "women" and "men" and explores the political uses of such categories. For the many people who have wondered why affirmative action so often yields disappointing results, Bacchi's examinations are a gold mine of insights. The variety of her national cases combined with the subtilty of her analysis offer a rich and textured picture of how such helping policies become entangled in definitions of women as marginal, deficient, and needy people. This is deconstruction at its best." --Myra Marx Ferree, University of Connecticut "Affirmative action, as a means of increasing access to education, jobs and public life, is under attack internationally. Carol Lee Bacchi's illuminating analysis of policies for women in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United States over the past 20 years reframes the debate by raising new questions--about citizenship; the politics of identity; the category of 'women;' and the continued resistance of traditional system to women's claims. Bacchi's argument about the political uses of categories will engage readers across a broad spectrum from poststructuralist to empiricist and from policymakers to activists." --Hester Eisenstein, SUNY "This book makes a major contribution to an issue of central concern to feminists. It is well-written, thoroughly researched and thoughtfully argued. Wide-ranging and comprehensive in scope, the book is carefully structured, using different countries to illustrate the specific ways in which affirmative action is co-opted and contained the practice." --Jeanne Gregory, Middlesex University "A major contribution to an issue of central concern to feminists. Wide-ranging and comprehensive in scope." --Jeanne Gregory, Middlesex University "For the many people who have wondered why affirmative action so often yields disappointing progress, Bacchi examinations are a gold mine of insights. This is deconstruction at its best." --Myra Marx Feree, University of Connecticut This timely and incisive book brings a theoretical lens to the debates around affirmative action. It presents a comparative analysis of affirmative action in the countries reputed to be leading the way in politics for women--the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Norway. Author Carol Lee Bacchi draws on current social and feminist theory to present a lucid analysis of the implementation of reform. She takes account of the particular historical context of affirmative action policies and considers why expressed commitment to affirmative action for women fails to translate into meaningful reform. Bacchi concludes that proponents of affirmative action need to direct more attention to the political uses of categories than to their abstract content and to concentrate efforts upon exposing the effects of category politics. This book will be essential reading for feminist theorists, political theorists, and social policy analysts, and will also be of interest to readers in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and human geography.

 
The Political Uses of Categories
 
Setting the Stage
 
The Politics of (Mis)representation
 
The Politics of Displacement
C Bacchi and J Eveline
The Politics of Incorporation
 
The Politics of Solidarity
 
The Politics of Transformation
 
The Politics of Difference
 
Conclusion
No Final Curtain

 

`The Politics of Affirmative Action: 'Women', Equality and Category Politics is a comprehensive study and clearly compares different applications of categories and political practices. Bacchi offers a useful study of historical contingencies and in this rich material she highlights the complexities very well' - Australian Journal of Political Science

`This book makes a major contribution to an issue of central concern to feminists. It is well written, thoroughly researched and thoughtfully argued. Wide-ranging and comprehensive in scope, the book is carefully structured, using different countries to illustrate the specific ways in which affirmative action is co-opted and contained in practice' - Jeanne Gregory, Middlesex University

`Affirmative action, as a means of increasing access to education, jobs and public life, is under attack internationally. Carol Bacchi's illuminating analysis of policies for women in Australia, Canada, The Netherlands , Norway, Sweden, and the United States over the past twenty years reframes the debate by raising new questions - about citizenship; the politics of identity; the category of "women"; and the continued resistance of traditional system to women's claims. Bacchi's argument about the political uses of categories will engage readers across a broad spectrum from poststructuralist to empiricists, and from policy-makers to activists' - Hester Eisenstein, SUNY

`Bacchi takes a social constructionist view of categories such as "women" and "men" and explores the political uses of such categories. By looking at affirmative action, a policy that attempts to advance women's opportunity, in a variety of progressive national contexts, Bacchi takes only positive examples - yet shows the limits that such efforts face. For the many people who have wondered why affirmative action so often yields disappointing progress, Bacchi's examinations are a goldmine of insights. The variety of her national cases combined with the subtlety of her analysis offers a rich and textured picture of how such helping policies become entangled in definitions of women as marginal, deficient, and needy people. This is deconstruction at its best' - Myra Marx Ferree, University of Connecticut

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