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New Article on Affirmative Action in Higher Education by Eric Grodsky

In an article published in the May 2007 issue of the American Journal of Sociology, Eric Grodsky analyzes trends in racial/ethnic and socioeconomic affirmative action in higher education between 1972 and 1992.

He finds that a much wider range of institutions engage in affirmative  action for African-American students than previous analysts reported, and that a growing number of  institutions extend the benefits of affirmative action to Hispanic students. Colleges and universities are markedly less enthusiastic about engaging in affirmative action for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. To understand why postsecondary institutions prefer students from particular minority groups over otherwise comparable white students, Grodsky introduces the concept of compensatory sponsorship (building on Turner's ideal-type of sponsored mobility). In a contest system perceived by many to disadvantage some competitors unfairly, college personnel engage in affirmative action both to right a perceived wrong and to preserve the legitimacy of the contest. The beneficiaries of compensatory sponsorship, however, are determined by historical and social forces that constrain how postsecondary institutions recruit, admit, and fund potential matriculants.

Grodsky, Eric. 2007. "Compensatory Sponsorship in Higher Education." American Journal of Sociology 112:1662-1712.