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Boundaries of the State In Us History$
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James T. Sparrow, William J. Novak, and Stephen W. Sawyer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226277646

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226277813.001.0001

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Private Power and American Bureaucracy: The State, the EEOC, and Civil Rights Enforcement

Private Power and American Bureaucracy: The State, the EEOC, and Civil Rights Enforcement

Chapter:
(p.259) Ten Private Power and American Bureaucracy: The State, the EEOC, and Civil Rights Enforcement
Source:
Boundaries of the State In Us History
Author(s):

Robert C. Lieberman

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226277813.003.0010

The development of affirmative action poses a challenge for standard accounts of American state building and policy development. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 seemed to rule out group-based, race-consciou enforcement and provided very little coercive power to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency it established to enforce antidiscrimination law. And yet within a decade, the EEOC had spearheaded the development of affirmative action. How was the EEOC able to be effective in an institutional environment that was quite hostile to its success? How did it manage to reorient the effects of a major policy without visible policy reform? The answer lies in a strategic alliance between the EEOC and civil rights organizations. This case suggests that conventional accounts of administrative power are inadequate to explain the particular patterns of American state building and policy change and points to an alternative approach based on links between public and private actors.

Keywords:   affirmative action, civil rights, race, discrimination

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