Accueil > Minority Incorporation and Discrimination


Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

Drawing on scholarship pertaining to political science, philosophy, law, sociology, economics, and social psychology, including my own , this multidisciplinary seminar addresses a set of theoretical and policy-oriented issues regarding equality, discrimination, affirmative action, and multiculturalism, considered in a broad, comparative perspective. Generally speaking, affirmative action encompasses any measure that allocates scarce goods on the basis of membership in a designated group, for the purpose of increasing the proportion of members of that group in a given population, where the group is currently underrepresented at least in part as a result of past and/or present discrimination. The existence of such measures may result from constitutional mandates, legislation, administrative regulations, court orders, or voluntary initiatives. Their goal is to counter deeply entrenched social practices that reproduce group inequality even in the absence of intentional discrimination. While considering in greater detail the U.S. historical experience (for reasons to be discussed in the first session), the course will provide a comparative exploration of affirmative action policies including the cases of India, South Africa, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. Some of its goals are: - To examine the connections (or lack thereof) between contemporary theories of social justice and equality (put forward by authors such as John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Ronald Dworkin, John Roemer…) and antidiscrimination law and policies ; - To examine the connections (or lack thereof) between contemporary theories of multiculturalism (put forward by authors such as Will Kymlicka and Charles Taylor, and criticized by authors such as Brian Barry and Richard Thompson Ford) and antidiscrimination law and policies ; - To clarify the concepts of race and ethnicity and describe their interrelations in a variety of national contexts and spheres of public discourse ; - To identify the analytical and empirical links between racism, discrimination, and affirmative action ; - To disaggregate the notion of “discrimination” so as to uncover distinctions that are relevant to policy analysis in all the countries under examination (“disparate treatment” versus “disparate impact”, intentional versus unintentional discrimination, animosity-driven versus “statistical”, calculation-based discrimination) ; - To distinguish and assess potential justifications for affirmative action (the “corrective justice” argument ; the “diversity”/multiculturalist argument ; the “deracialization” argument), while accounting for the predominance of some over others in the countries and/or discursive spheres to be considered ; - To identify the empirical effects and side effects of affirmative action – and of the ways in which that policy has been legitimized by political and legal actors; - To sketch a typology of affirmative action programs according to the criteria used for identifying their intended beneficiaries, the – more or less flexible – form of the programs involved, the level (constitutional, legislative, administrative…) of the legal rules from which they derive, the programs' domain of implementation, and the justifications more or less successfully advanced in their behalf. Lastly, one will consider the hypothesis that in some contexts affirmative action programs can only be successful and/or legally admissible to the extent that they remain indirect, implicit, or both. The implications of that paradoxical conclusion will be discussed in light of the publicity principle which is often thought to be a key component of any democratic political order.


  • SABBAGH, Daniel (Researcher, CERI)
  • SIMON, Patrick (Directeur de recherche)

Pedagogical format


Course validation

Contrôle continu.

Required reading

  • * Joppke C. (2007). “Transformation of Immigrant Integration: Civic Integration and antidiscrimination in the Netherlands, France, and Germany,” World Politics 59(2)
  • * Bloemraad. I (2007). « Unity in Diversity? Bridging Models of Multiculturalism and Immigrant Integration », Du Bois Review, 4(2), p. 317-336
  • * Taguieff P-A. (1988). La force du préjugé. Essai sur le racisme et ses doubles, Paris, La Découverte, chap. 8 « Du racisme : modèles, types idéaux, variantes, paradoxes », p. 309-337