Political culture wars 1960s style: Equal employment opportunity-affirmative action law and the Philadelphia plan

Nicholas Pedriana, Robin Stryker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

94 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article empirically examines contextually conditiored construction of symbolic resources during political debate over the 1969 revised Philadelphia Plan - a crucial moment in the shaping of federal equal employment law. Tying together political sociology's concept of policy feedback with legal and cultural sociology's concept of culture as a resource, the article explains how actors who were hampered by the explicit language used to embed equal opportunity values into law turned apparent constraint into an opportunity to transform law. The article simultaneously illuminates an underdeveloped aspect of equal employment law's unfolding and builds more general theory to help explain how law's language, general cultural values expressed in law, and alternative methods used to interpret law mediate the effects of past law on future law. Defining concepts of value centrality and explicitness of legal language, the article uses its case study to suggest hypotheses about how variation in centrality of cultural values and explicitness of language used to incorporate these values into law affect variation in mobilization of different types of cultural strategies by actors struggling over law interpretation and enforcement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-691
Number of pages59
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Volume103
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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