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5 - Discrimination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2020

Philippe Fontaine
Affiliation:
École normale supérieure Paris–Saclay
Jefferson D. Pooley
Affiliation:
Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania
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Summary

Chapter 5 recounts how social scientists, during and after the war, tended to treat discrimination as a system-one with interlocking legal, political, and economic dimensions. By the 1950s systemic frameworks had receded in favor of more individualistic explanations for the “race problem.” The study of discrimination remained strikingly cross-disciplinary, but the lens of prejudice-individual attitudes in the aggregate-was newly prominent, supported by philanthropy and Cold War discretion. Gary Becker brought microeconomics to discrimination in this period, too, in an approach that, like the psychology of prejudice, stressed the causal priority of dispositions. The announcement of formal equality in the civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s complicated the study of race for the balance of the century. Systemic accounts were partially revived, and evidence for persisting racial inequality was widely documented. But causal factors proved harder to identify. In the wake of de jure segregation, even radical critics of “institutional racism” and “internal colonialism” conceded that discrimination's effects were easier to describe than its causal dynamics. Quantitative sociologists and economists deployed a cascade of measures that demonstrated disparate outcomes, though again without clear explanatory accounts rooted in discrimination.

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Chapter
Information
Society on the Edge
Social Science and Public Policy in the Postwar United States
, pp. 173 - 223
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

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