America is the first society in history to make ethno-racial diversity an affirmative social ideal rather than viewing it as a fearful menace, as almost all other societies still do. Since the 1960s, America has pursued this ideal in many forms—not only to remedy past discrimination against minorities but also to increase diversity for its own sake.
It is high time for an accounting. How diverse are we now and what can we expect in the future? Why do we, unlike the rest of the world, think that diversity is desirable and that more of it is better? What risks does diversity pose? What are the roles of law, politics, and informal social controls in promoting diversity? How can we manage diversity better?
In this magisterial book, Peter H. Schuck explains how Americans have understood diversity, how we came to embrace it, how the government regulates it now, and how we can do better. He mobilizes a wealth of conceptual, historical, legal, political, and sociological analysis to argue that diversity is best managed not by the government but by families, ethnic groups, religious communities, employers, voluntary organizations, and other civil society institutions. Analyzing some of the most controversial policy arenas where politics and diversity intersect—immigration, multiculturalism, language, affirmative action, residential neighborhoods, religious practices, faith-based social services, and school choice—Schuck reveals the conflicts, trade-offs, and ironies entailed by our commitment to the diversity ideal. He concludes with recommendations to help us manage the challenge of diversity in the future.
Schuck…sees diversity as a tremendous natural resource for American civic life. But through laws that restrict economic freedom and institutions that squelch energetic public discourse, he thinks the government has turned this great asset into a liability. Teachers and students can’t always say what they want when they want because of constitutional restraints of religious speech in school, liability to lawsuits on a range of discrimination issues and the general timidity that has followed… The connections he makes between the familiar and the unexpected, and among left, right and center, make Diversity in America remarkably original.
A thorough examination of the idea of diversity, including its use as a justification for affirmative action policies, this book expresses skepticism concerning the competence of government to manage diversity… Diversity in America adds breadth to standard debates abut affirmative action. It does so by considering not only diversity in higher education, but also the ethnic and cultural diversity fueled by immigration, the racial and social diversity often frustrated by patterns of residential housing, and the religious diversity implicated in the United States’ pursuit of free exercise of religion… [Schuck] ultimately advances a nuanced proposal that would permit certain private institutions…to engage in affirmative action practices, while prohibiting public institutions and agencies from doing so… Accordingly, the management of diversity will remain an important public issue and Diversity in America an important contribution to the United States’ discourse about that issue.
Peter Schuck has written the most comprehensive book to date on diversity, what about it might be good for society or alternatively bad for it, and how we might possibly resolve conflicts over diversity. This will be the most authoritative book available on the diversity issue and how it is played out in various policy areas. It is well-written and perfectly accessible, and very well-researched. Schuck seems to have missed nothing on the diversity debate and on the specific issues he takes up.
Some will dismiss Diversity in America as a footnote-laden apologia for the conservative cause garbed in full Establishment regalia…but Schuck isn’t Chavez or Connerly, and his arguments need to be engaged. It’s essential to begin thinking beyond the model of a generation ago, which assumes that the force of law rather than an appeal to what Schuck calls ‘genuineness’ is the best way to manage diversity… Still, as Diversity in America acknowledges, it’s hardly ‘Kumbaya’ by the campfire. Our embrace of differentness is a wary, contextual, and complex matter… Schuck’s analyses are provocative and complex.
A celebration and a dissection of diversity that is so insightful, so finely balanced, so fair, that it will frustrate the ideologically obsessed and gratify, enhearten and instruct everyone who wants to make America work.
Peter Schuck has done the scholarly community and perhaps the nation a favor in writing this book. He has written a far-reaching analysis of the basic operating value or principle of an increasing number of American institutions—diversity. There is no other book that offers such a thorough analysis. Moreover, and more importantly, Schuck does not rehearse the familiar arguments. His position is iconoclastic, and therefore interesting, courageous, and provocative.
Schuck explores the diversity of diversity with tough-minded wit, combining the lawyer’s analytic precision with the social theorist’s breadth.
- 462 pages
- 1-3/16 x 5-11/16 x 8-7/8 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
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