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Reverse Discrimination: Dismantling the Myth

Fred L. Pincus
Reverse Discrimination: Dismantling the Myth
ISBN: 978-1-58826-101-4
ISBN: 978-1-58826-203-5
2003/183 pages/LC: 2003041425
A related title: Race in the Schools: Perpetuating White Dominance? by Judith R. Blau. 

"A breath of fresh air in the national debate over affirmative action." —Dula J. Espinosa, Contemporary Sociology

"[A] vital contribution to the essential counter-discourse against strident, mounting attacks on race-conscious affirmative action programs."—Walter R. Allen, Academe

"A must-read, pathbreaking empirical analysis that effectively refutes the contemporary contention that reverse discrimination is a significant obstacle for white men.... Highly recommended. General readers, undergraduate and graduate students, researchers, faculty, professionals, and policymakers."—Choice

"A vital contribution on a subject of momentous importance."—Stephen Steinberg, Graduate Center, City University of New York

"A unique, detailed treatment of what affirmative action is legally, what it is in practice, and the evidence for and against it."—Eric Hirsch, Providence College


Choice Outstanding Academic Book!

How pervasive is reverse discrimination in the United States today? What exactly is "affirmative action"? Fred Pincus investigates the nature and scope of reverse discrimination, questioning what effect affirmative action actually has on white men.

Beginning with the early opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Pincus traces the evolution of the idea that affirmative action in itself amounts to a form of discrimination. He then examines the empirical evidence. He finds that, contrary to conventional wisdom, white males' experiences of discrimination have little relation to affirmative action policies. Certainly, there are white men who have been victims of discrimination. But, as Pincus demonstrates, the concept of reverse discrimination is primarily a social construct generated by traditional beliefs about race and gender relations. In the end, it is people of color and white women who continue to carry the burden of bias.


Fred L. Pincus is professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is coeditor (with Howard J. Ehrlich) of Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence, second edition.


  • Introduction.
  • What Is Affirmative Action?
  • The History of Reverse Discrimination.
  • Affirmative Action Critics.
  • Affirmative Action Supporters.
  • The Social Construction of Reverse Discrimination.
  • An Exploratory Study.
  • An Empirical Study.
  • Selected Court Cases.
  • Conclusion.
  • Appendix: A Dialogue with an Antiaffirmative Action Activist.