The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities

Natasha K. Warikoo. Univ. of Chicago, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-226-40014-3
This book highlights a persistent question facing diversity efforts in higher education: how do universities make the case for diversity in the highly selective, competitive, and rigorous environments that define them as elite institutions? Warikoo, a Harvard professor, bases her conclusions on interviews with students at her home institution, at Brown University, and at Oxford. Her narrow sample has empirical limitations, but Warikoo makes a case for these conversations as proving grounds for four perspectives that students use to understand race: color-blindness, diversity, power analysis, and the “culture of poverty.” These frames are an effective foundation to support Warikoo’s larger conclusion, that “many white students expressed what I term the diversity bargain: ambivalent support for affirmative action as long as they benefited through a diverse campus, and as along as black and Latino peers didn’t seem to deprive them of success in other competitive endeavors.” Many institutions have embedded the diversity bargain in their own marketing for multicultural programming. The author provocatively laments that by adopting such rhetoric, universities—and the students that they influence—may limit their ability to make real social change. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/15/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-226-65107-1
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