Inventing Equal Opportunity

Inventing Equal Opportunity

by Frank Dobbin
     
 

ISBN-10: 069114995X

ISBN-13: 9780691149950

Pub. Date: 06/19/2011

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Equal opportunity in the workplace is thought to be the direct legacy of the civil rights and feminist movements and the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet, as Frank Dobbin demonstrates, corporate personnel experts--not Congress or the courts--were the ones who determined what equal opportunity meant in practice, designing changes in how employers hire, promote

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Overview

Equal opportunity in the workplace is thought to be the direct legacy of the civil rights and feminist movements and the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet, as Frank Dobbin demonstrates, corporate personnel experts--not Congress or the courts--were the ones who determined what equal opportunity meant in practice, designing changes in how employers hire, promote, and fire workers, and ultimately defining what discrimination is, and is not, in the American imagination.

Dobbin shows how Congress and the courts merely endorsed programs devised by corporate personnel. He traces how the first measures were adopted by military contractors worried that the Kennedy administration would cancel their contracts if they didn't take "affirmative action" to end discrimination. These measures built on existing personnel programs, many designed to prevent bias against unionists. Dobbin follows the changes in the law as personnel experts invented one wave after another of equal opportunity programs. He examines how corporate personnel formalized hiring and promotion practices in the 1970s to eradicate bias by managers; how in the 1980s they answered Ronald Reagan's threat to end affirmative action by recasting their efforts as diversity-management programs; and how the growing presence of women in the newly named human resources profession has contributed to a focus on sexual harassment and work/life issues.

Inventing Equal Opportunity reveals how the personnel profession devised--and ultimately transformed--our understanding of discrimination.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691149950
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
06/19/2011
Pages:
360
Sales rank:
1,258,041
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

CHAPTER 1: Regulating Discrimination The Paradox of a Weak State 1

CHAPTER 2: Washington Outlaws Discrimination with a Broad Brush 22

CHAPTER 3: The End of Jim Crow

The Personnel Arsenal Put to New Purposes 41

CHAPTER 4: Washington Means Business

Personnel Experts Fashion a System of Compliance 75

CHAPTER 5: Fighting Bias with Bureaucracy 101

CHAPTER 6: The Reagan Revolution and the Rise of Diversity Management 133

CHAPTER 7: The Feminization of HR and Work-Family Programs 161

CHAPTER 8: Sexual Harassment as Employment Discrimination 190

CHAPTER 9: How Personnel Defined Equal Opportunity 220

Notes 235

Bibliography 261

Index 289

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