This is a clear example of the power Dye was referring to. The organization has funding and uses this funding to pursue research that furthers their own goals. This does not mean that their goals are necessarily more right than the opposing side, only that their goals may have more research done to support them.


One of the strongest examples of the view of universities on affirmative action is that of the University of California. This view was so strong that a coalition was formed to fight for the issue. This coalition is known as BAMN, an acronym that stands for 'by any means necessary.' The full details of the organization and their formation are provided on the BAMN web site:

The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action & Integration, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) was founded in July 1995 in Berkeley, California in response to the attack on affirmative action in the University of California system" (BAMN 2002).

The group go on to clearly state their view on the issue:

What is necessary now in order to successfully defend affirmative action and integration is the power of a social movement like the one that secured affirmative action in the first place: a new, militant, integrated, mass civil rights movement. We dedicate ourselves to this task" (BAMN 2002).

Dye has noted that universities are one type of institution that are able to exercise power. The above is an example how this institution can go further than simply supporting research and actually create an organization that takes action on the issue.

Interest Groups

The National Organization for Women (NOW) is an example of a group that represents the people affirmative action attempts to assist. A report on their web site titled "Issue Report: Affirmative Action" makes their view for affirmative action clear:

Every day for over 30 years, affirmative action has opened doors for women and people of color -- on the job, in school and in business. The radical right is trying to put an end to such policies and unless we speak out and organize strong political opposition, those doors of opportunity are about to be slammed shut" (NOW 1999).

Another interest group is Americans Against Discrimination And Preferences (AADAP). The group was formed by Glynn Custred and Thomas E. Wood, "to promote the abolition of racial and gender discrimination and preferences at the local, state, and federal levels, along the lines established by California's Proposition 209" (AADAP 2002). A consideration of this group shows the link between interests that Dye described. Glynn Custred and Thomas E. Wood authored Californian's Proposition 209. This shows the link between public policy and the interest group, since the same people that authored a significant public policy document, then went on to begin an interest group. Both founders are also scholars, with Thomas E. Wood being Executive Director of the California Association of Scholars and a state affiliate of the National Association of Scholars. Custred is also one of the Board of Directors of the California Association of Scholars. This illustrates the link between the interest group and other elite institutions. Dye noted that it is the elite that determine public policy because of their position in institutions that can shape public policy. The example of the interest group Americans Against Discrimination And Preferences, shows that these elite impact not only an individual institution but several.

Policy Planning Groups and Think Tanks

Dye describes how policy planning groups research a certain problem and then reach a conclusion about this research. This research is communicated to the mass media as well as within the political system. Dye also notes that the action formulated is based on providing "explicit policies or programs designed to resolve or ameliorate national problems" (Dye 1995, 222). It was also noted earlier that the general public do not know enough to understand public policy decisions. For the average individual, the recommendations seem like a good idea. This is because they focus on providing a solution to a real problem individuals experience. The majority of people accept these solutions without really knowing whether or not the solution is really beneficial. This is a process of effectively selling a certain idea to the public, though without the public knowing that this is occurring. The public simply accepts the expert opinion.

This is another example of how the wishes of the elite become the reality. The individuals on policy planning groups are not average citizens. Instead, they are business people, scholars or politicians. These people do not represent the general public.

Government Commissions and Councils

Government commissions and councils are used to investigate issues and provide the government with recommendations on an issue. The problem that occurs is that the people chosen to be part of these government commissions or councils are not chosen randomly. Instead, people are chosen with a specific interest in the area being considered. A major interest in an area usually means that a person has a strong preference for one side of the issue. A scholar is not likely to become an expert on a certain area for no reason. It is more likely they become an expert because they have a strong inclination for one side of the argument.

An individual who illustrates this is Professor Christopher Edley. Edley is a scholar with a background based on serving in racial policy commissions. This included being part of The Civil Rights Project at Harvard and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Edley was also vice chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Edley was then appointed to lead the White House review of affirmative action (USCCR 2002). With his background in racial policy it seems likely that Edley's view would be biased towards racial issues. This means that Edley would bring his own perspectives to the review. This prevents the review from having an unbiased focus.

This can be seen as a typical view of the type of people that are involved in commissions. Each one is interested in the subject for a specific reason, whether it be to better the situation for women, for other cultures, or for the benefit of the organization. No matter what the approach, these people with opinions either way do not represent the general public or what they want.

Political Parties

The final consideration is the political parties. This is an interesting topic to consider from this perspective because the two major political parties are divided on the issue.

One article describes President Bush's position on the issue, "As a candidate, President Bush said he opposed racial quotas and would work to end them" (CBS 2001). Another article notes that this is a common view held by Conservatives, "Conservatives, however, see ending affirmative action as a powerful political issue" (Froomkin 1998). In contrast, Bill Clinton, "asserting that the job of ending discrimination remains unfinished, strongly defends affirmative action" (Froomkin 1998). This is a major point of debate between the two political parties, with the Republican Party opposed to affirmative action and the Democratic Party for it.

To consider the issue of the power of the elite, one must consider who is in power. The Democratic and the Republican Party are opposed on the issue. This does not mean that the parties debate the issue until they come to an agreement. Instead, whoever is in government has the greater power. It is also significant that who is in power does not hinge on the affirmative action debate. Who is in power comes down to the votes of the people and the people vote based on a number of varying reasons. The individuals in power then, are not chosen because of their position on affirmative action, and yet their position becomes the one action is taken against. This is another illustration of how those in power do not necessarily represent the needs of the people.


The issue of affirmative action has now been seen by its relationship with the various institutions that make up the social elite. These institutions are the ones that have the social power to decide the direction that society takes. The analysis has shown that these social elite do not necessarily have the best interests of the people in mind. Corporations are more likely to focus on what is best for themselves. Foundations and interest groups also have certain perspectives on the issue. It was also seen that these elite groups are interlinked. One set of scholars began an interest group to support the case for affirmative action. This interest group then supports research into areas that further the affirmative action cause. It was also seen that individuals with an interest on one side of the issue are likely to be part of policy planning groups. These groups offer a solution to the public and to government, with the solution seen as an acceptable solution to a real problem. This allows the general public to support…