freedom without opportunity is not really freedom at all

DQ # 1 (only 200 words)

In a speech at Howard University in 1965 President Johnson laid out part of his vision for the Great Society and advanced the notion the freedom without opportunity is not really freedom at all:

You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.

Thus it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates. This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result

For the task is to give 20 million Negroes the same chance as every other American to learn and grow, to work and share in society, to develop their abilities–physical, mental and spiritual, and to pursue their individual happiness.

To this end equal opportunity is essential, but not enough, not enough. Men and women of all races are born with the same range of abilities. But ability is not just the product of birth. Ability is stretched or stunted by the family that you live with, and the neighborhood you live in–by the school you go to and the poverty or the richness of your surroundings. It is the product of a hundred unseen forces playing upon the little infant, the child, and finally the man. (Johnson, p. 635).

 

In the context of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity (AA/EEO) Executive Orders, President Johnson’s words provide some important context to the debate surrounding AA and EEO. Is Johnson’s basic premise correct – can we really have free society without true equality of opportunity. Does legal freedom matter when social determinants such as poverty, differential access to advanced education and health care can work to constrain individual agency?*

*this question is rhetorical – it is the overarching theme of the discussion – only the blue text below is the actual discussion question that you must explicitly address

In order to have a free and diverse society, are programs such as AA and EEO necessary? Were they necessary in the 1960s but no longer necessary? Though well-intentioned as an effort to provide a truly level playing field, does the potential for reverse discrimination diminish the fairness of AA and EEO? What alternatives to promote diversity and true equality of opportunity might exist as an alternative to AA/EEO laws? What might the workplace look like without these laws? Provide examples and/or statistics to support your answer from the text, your readings, or outside research to support your answer?

DQ # 2 (only 200 words)

Widespread social change is always of special interest to sociologists, as the conditions required to see scores of individual act together to enact social change are often difficult to predict.  As the United States moved to an industrial economy at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, it resulted in massive social change as the locus of work moved from the home to outside of the home.  Similarly, as we, as a society are now moving from an industrial to a post-industrial economy in which geographic ‘place’ has lost importance and data and information have usurped tangible goods as what our society produces, our culture has seen significant social changes in the areas of population, education, labor force participation, health, technology, and the family structure.

 

Which of these areas (or any other area) has been subject to the greatest social changes in the past 30 years?  Which areas are likely to see continued changes? What factors have come together to cause these changes?  How much of these changes can be controlled by individual actions?

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