Cultivating Equal Opportunity Society in South Africa and America

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  • Topic: Discrimination, Egalitarianism, Affirmative action
  • Pages : 21 (7969 words )
  • Download(s) : 171
  • Published : February 28, 2013
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* Equal opportunity.
Equal opportunity is a stipulation that all people should be treated similarly, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences, except when particular “distinctions can be explicitly justified.” The aim according to this often "complex and contested concept" is that important jobs should go to those “most qualified” – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not go to persons for arbitrary or irrelevant reasons, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, friendship ties to whoever is in power, religion, sex, ethnicity, race, caste, or “involuntary personal attributes” such as disability, age, or sexual orientation. Chances for advancement should be open to everybody interested such that they have “an equal chance to compete within the framework of goals and the structure of rules established.” The idea is to remove arbitrariness from the selection process and base it on some “pre-agreed basis of fairness, with the assessment process being related to the type of position,” and emphasizing procedural and legal means. Individuals should succeed or fail based on their own efforts and not "extraneous circumstances" such as having well-connected parents. It is opposed to nepotism and plays a role in whether a social structure is seen as legitimate. People with differing political viewpoints often see the concept differently. The meaning of equal opportunity is debated in fields such as political philosophy, sociology and psychology. It is being applied to increasingly wider areas beyond employment including lending, housing, college admissions, voting rights, and elsewhere. In the classical sense, equality of opportunity is closely aligned with the concept of equality before the law and ideas of meritocracy.[15] Generally the terms “equality of opportunity” and “equal opportunity” are interchangeable, with occasional slight variations: “equality of opportunity” has more of a sense of being an abstract political concept, while “equal opportunity” is sometimes used as an adjective, usually in the context of employment regulations, to identify an employer, a hiring approach, or law. Equal opportunity provisions have been written into regulations and have been debated in courtrooms. It is sometimes conceived as a legal right against discrimination. It is an ideal which has become increasingly widespread in Western nations during the last several centuries and is intertwined with social mobility, most often with upward mobility and with rags to riches stories: The coming President of France is the grandson of a shoemaker. The actual President is a peasant's son. His predecessor again began life in a humble way in the shipping business. There is surely equality of opportunity under the new order in the old nation. In a factory setting, equality of opportunity is often seen as a procedural fairness along the lines of "if you assemble twice as many lamps, you'll be paid double". In this sense, the concept is in contrast to the concept of equality of outcome which might require that all workers be paid similarly regardless of how many lamps they made. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the concept assumes that society is stratified with a diverse range of roles, some of which are more desirable than others. And the benefit of equality of opportunity is to bring fairness to the selection process for coveted roles in corporations, associations, nonprofits, universities, and elsewhere. There is no "formal linking" between equality of opportunity and political structure, according to one view, in the sense that there can be equality of opportunity in democracies, autocracies, and in communist nations, although it is primarily associated with a competitive market economy and embedded within the legal frameworks of democratic societies. People with different political perspectives see equality of opportunity differently: liberals disagree about which conditions are...
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