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Affirmative Action

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  • Feb. 2013
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Affirmative Action: The Concept |

Written by Goga, Farhana |
THE GENERAL understanding of affirmative action is that it is about providing opportunities for previously disadvantaged people, which includes people of colour and women.Although disability and homosexuality continue to be issues of concern, this research does not address these issues. Homosexual staff however, expressed problems of not having their partners recognised and not being given the same rights as partners of heterosexual staff.The questions that arise then, are "what is affirmative action?" and "who should benefit from affirmative action policies?" The definition affects implementation and is very important in assessing its result.1. A Contentious ConceptVarious groupings see affirmative action as a contentious concept, with a variety of meanings. Innes (1993:6) argues that it has two meanings and purposes, namely to: i) Overcome discriminatory obstacles that stand in the way of achieving equality of employment; andii) Introduce preferential policies aimed at promoting one group over others to achieve equality of employment.The implementation of affirmative action depends on the specific emphasis of the company and government, through its policies and laws. 2. Origins of Affirmative ActionAffirmative action originated in the United States in the 1960’s. It was a response to pressure by the civil rights movement; thus, race was instrumental in deciding its beneficiaries (Sikhosana 1996). In the United States, unlike South Africa, its purpose was to uplift the position of oppressed minority groups, rather than that of an oppressed majority. Thus, its application and impact in the US would be different from that in South Africa. Nevertheless, affirmative action is a process of transformation. It is evident that the context of the particular country within which the affirmative action operates is of utmost importance (Schreiner 1996). 3. Definition of Affirmative Action a) General...