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Diversity: The Invention of a Concept [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   371
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 25, 2004
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1594030421  
EAN  9781594030420  


Availability  0 units.


Item Description...
Overview
Diversity is America's newest cultural ideal. Corporations alter their recruitment and hiring policy in the name of a diverse workforce. Universities institute new admissions rules in the name of a diverse student body. What its proponents have in mind when they cite the compelling importance of diversity, Peter Wood argues in this elegant work, is not the dictionary meaning of the word-variety and multiplicity-but rather a set of prescribed numerical outcomes in terms of racial and ethnic makeup. Writing with wit and erudition, Wood has undertaken in this entertaining book nothing less than the biography of a concept. Drawing on his experience as a social scientist, he traces the birth and evolution of "diversity." He shows how diversity sprawls across politics, law, education, business, entertainment, personal aspiration, religion, and the arts, as an encompassing claim about human identity. It asserts the principle that people are, above all else, members of social groups and products of the historical experiences of those groups. In this sense, Wood shows, diversity is profoundly anti-individualist and at odds with America's older ideals of liberty and equality. Wood warns that as a political ideology, diversity undercuts America's long effort to overcome racial division. He shows how the ideology of diversity has propelled the Neo-racialists on the political Right as well as those on the multi-culturalist Left. But even if the diversity movement did not exacerbate racial and social division, he believes that it would be a questionable cultural ideal. As Wood points out, "Our liberty and our equality demand that we hold one another to common standards and that we reject all hierarchy based on heredity-even the hierarchy that comes about when we grant present privileges to make up for past privileges denied."

Publishers Description
Diversity is America's newest cultural ideal. Corporations alter their recruitment and hiring policy in the name of a diverse workforce. Universities institute new admissions rules in the name of a diverse student body. What its proponents have in mind when they cite the compelling importance of diversity, Peter Wood argues in this elegant work, is not the dictionary meaning of the word—variety and multiplicity—but rather a set of prescribed numerical outcomes in terms of racial and ethnic makeup. Writing with wit and erudition, Wood has undertaken in this entertaining book nothing less than the biography of a concept. Drawing on his experience as a social scientist, he traces the birth and evolution of "diversity." He shows how diversity sprawls across politics, law, education, business, entertainment, personal aspiration, religion, and the arts, as an encompassing claim about human identity. It asserts the principle that people are, above all else, members of social groups and products of the historical experiences of those groups. In this sense, Wood shows, diversity is profoundly anti-individualist and at odds with America's older ideals of liberty and equality. Wood warns that as a political ideology, diversity undercuts America's long effort to overcome racial division. He shows how the ideology of diversity has propelled the Neo-racialists on the political Right as well as those on the multi-culturalist Left. But even if the diversity movement did not exacerbate racial and social division, he believes that it would be a questionable cultural ideal. As Wood points out, "Our liberty and our equality demand that we hold one another to common standards and that we reject all hierarchy based on heredity—even the hierarchy that comes about when we grant present privileges to make up for past privileges denied."


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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A reasoned, measured approach to the problems with diversity  Nov 17, 2008
"Diversity: The Invention of a Concept" by Peter Wood offers proof positive that the so-called diversity movement being foisted on workplaces, schools, and pretty much every other aspect of American life has nothing to do with equality, justice, or progress. Wood has researched his topic carefully and diligently, and he is unafraid to shine a light on the deceptive practices couched in the nearly sacred shroud of diversity.

His reasoned, measured approach to the harms and schemes being perpetuated in the name of diversity will provide a measure of solace to anyone who has fallen victim to this illogical, emotionally driven agenda and should let those who deal in diversity drivel and its twisted logic know that theirs is not a cause built on solid ground. This book is very well-researched and written, and hence is a pleasure to read---even though it will take some time.

The idea of bestowing special treatment to members of certain races and ethnicities is unlikely to vanish soon, yet books such as this one are essential reading for anyone who wants to understand fully the underpinnings and ramifications of the relentless, reckless rush toward "diversity."
 
Great book that cuts against the cultural grain. . .  Dec 5, 2005
Professor Wood admits that, in contemporary America, only the most intrepid minds dare question diversity's exalted stature as a cultural ideal. So it should say something Wood's disregard for his own reputation that he has written this book, which assails the ideal of diversity on page by page pace. I will admit that I bought this book hoping to see just this kind of thing-to see a credible author and skilled mind slay diversity in a "public setting." Of course, it's only a public setting if more people read the book.

My own antipathy toward diversity took root during my undergraduate experience at the University of Nebraska, where diversity pervaded official policy, speeches, campus news articles, and student government. Not despising diversity, I merely became irritated with its omnipresence, the way one might tire of a food group if forced to eat it at every sitting. In short, I was unaware of diversity's true malevolence before reading this book. But Wood documents diversity's self-contradictions, its empty thinking, its threat to individualism, its corrosive impact on higher education, and more. In higher education, for instance, Wood attacks race preferences for admission (carried out in the name of diversity) and notes that, at the U. of Michigan, a white applicant to law school scoring between 163-165 on the LSAT and holding a 3.25 GPA has about a 23% chance of being admitted. A minority student with the exact same academic credentials has a 99% chance. I mention this in this review so that the potential reader can get a feel for the content of this book.

Of higher education, Professor Wood also points out how diversity is cleverly used as a two-faced recruitment tool. Diversity is marketed to white American teenagers, Wood says, as a way to escape the social narrowness of their high school experience-as a "romantic mingling" experience with "the other". But diversity is then marketed to minority students as an assurance that they will feel welcome at State U., where increased recruitment of students of color will offer minorities a safe haven from the crush of the predominantly white student body. Fantastic observation, because it's true, and it reveals diversity's opportunistic nature.

Despite diversity's grotesque track record, Wood also realizes why diversity has maintained a near universal following in this country-it seems to command us all to be fair, helpful, open-minded, and above all, to avoid judgment of other people, other beliefs, and other ideas (is that such a good idea?). As Wood argues, despite diversity's more noble exhortations, we as neighbors, citizens, and co-workers can better achieve good will and social betterment if we set aside silly race-based distinctions and look instead at individual merit.

As an example of how holistic Wood's view of diversity is, take one of the early chapters. In it, Wood draws on his experience in anthropology to relate how Americans in the 1800s and early 1900s were avid readers of books and compendiums that provided rich, unabashed descriptions of the world's geographic and cultural diversity. True diversity. He contrasts this bygone interest in the world's people and places with the new diversity, which Wood argues accentuates slight differences between people (black Americans, white Americans, Hispanics, etc.) and asserts, against the evidence, that the differences between us are gigantic. Furthermore, he chastises contemporary Americans for believing themselves to be educated about and sensitive to cultural differences, whereas, these same Americans believe, past generations were parochial, ignorant, and unappreciative of these differences. "It is a sad delusion," he writes.

Although it wasn't the most enjoyable segment in the book, the best work Wood does (from an author's and researcher's point of view) is when he traces the growth of diversity from an LBJ speech through the Supreme Court's Bakke decision through the 1980s and then today. Wood's treatment of the Bakke case is remarkable in its detail, and is sure to startle the reader when one realizes how a marginalized, fringe idea (that there is real, measurable educational value in having a diverse student body), set forth by Justice Lewis Powell, spawned the monster we wrestle with today.

Overall, Wood takes a topic that had great potential to be tedious and academic and turns it into a delightful read that manages to deal with diversity comprehensively and delicately without compromising the reader's interest. Flat-out, this is a great book.
 
A Clear-Headed Diagnosis of a Hot-Button Issue  Apr 18, 2004
The thesis of Wood's book can be stated in this way: With relative cultural unity having been achieved in America with the removal of legal barriers to opportunity for minorities, a more recent movement has arisen that seeks to undermine this unity by introducing a new type of "diversity". The former term refers to true diversity between cultures that involves deep and fundamental differences in worldviews that are more often an obstacle to overcome than something to be celebrated. (One example used by Wood is Herman Melville's extended experience with Typee people in the Marquesan Islands.) On the other hand, the new diversity (used in italics by the author) turns superficial distinctions into epochal differences (such as having a college roommate with fake Polynesian tattoos) that, according to the diversophiles, must be retained in the culture at all costs.

This is more than just a silly exercise in treating cultural fads as meaningful differences. Wood describes a two-phase process in which this concept of diversity is a means to a specific end. The first phase (diversity I) stresses hard that people must be defined by a race, even if the minority does not wish to do so, in order to create identifiable "groups" in society. The second phase (diversity II) uses the fiction that diversity of race, gender, sexual preference, etc. is equivalent to diversity of worldview. With this foundation, questions of diversity take on an ominous meaning - when this kind of diversity is emphasized as a policy in the workplace, on campus, or elsewhere, a conflict arises between the interest in selecting the best qualified individual(s) and preserving an overall profile of a workforce or campus population. And when these superficial race, sex, etc. characteristics of a person are given a preference over actual qualifications to do the job, it brings up the same issues of racism that America had been trying to move away from for so long.

An especially helpful passage in Wood's book is his breakdown of the Bakke decision, which upheld the race-preference factor in school admissions process. Justice Powell's opinion for the court made the "diversity" principle a major issue, which was unusual considering that no other justice on either side joined him in this portion of the opinion and that little attention was given to this issue during the case itself.

The bulk of Wood's book then explains how this principle has been applied in most areas of society - the workplace, campus, the arts, etc. The book was published in 2003, but came out before the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding in part the University of Michigan's use of race-based preferences. However, the book is a valuable resource in describing the problem beyond the immediate political debate.

 
Interesting, insightful, and above the usual fray...  Jan 23, 2004
Professor Wood offers a holistic look at this strange new ideology of diversity, particularly in how it has surged from an obscure portion of the Bakke case to an all-encompassing religion for its adherents that continues to encroach on virtually every aspect of public life. His best argument is that diversity, when brought alongside traditional American values of liberty and equality, always seems to trump the latter pair, and we end up forsaking both liberty and our belief in equality to preserve demographiclly correct proportions of essentially manufactured ethnicities.

Wood comes to some strong conclusions, but never commits the near universal sin of hyperbole that currently envelopes both political left and right. That alone should earn him four-and-a-half stars. Anyone interested in a thoughtful, well-researched critque of this concept of diversity need look no further than professor Wood. Please, delete Hannity and O'Reilly from your shopping cart and buy this book first!!!

 
The greatest lie in the world: diversity  Oct 17, 2003
Diversity is the greatewst lie in america today. What does diveristy claim. It claims, as we learn in this fine read, that diversity is essential to success and understanding and tolerance. THis is actually completely false. Diverse workforces and diverse college campuses dont actually make anything better, in fact they make people less tolerant. Diversity is the ideal of the communist left that says everyone(remmember "workers of the world unite you have nothing to lose but your chains!") is the same and that by mixing us all together in some grand social experiment that we will all be happy. That sad part is that 'diversity' and 'tokenism' really mirrors far more what queen victoria did at her diamond jubille when all the 'oddities of empire' the diverse masses from all over were paraded in front of the aristocracy. This is the truth behind diversity. In fact the liberal would love it if every diverse 'oddity' of humanity could come to college dressed in 'traditional garb' so that we can admire and see them as if they are in some museum. But this doesnt help the 'exotic' people we bring in to diversify ourselves, it actually mkaes them feel more like outcasts. Hiring one Sikh and one Hindu and one Pathan and one Gurka and one Jew for your coproation wont help them, in fact they would all be more productive if they worked with eachother against eachother. The idea that they will become more tolerant is also false. In most racially mixed societies(Brazil, south africa, Israel, Australia, America) the many races hate eachother much more then they did prior to the mixing.

Lets take for example the situation in malaysia when they were building the Petronas Twin Towers. They had Japanese workers building one tower and koreans building the other. The teams hated eachother and competed. If they had been mixed they would have worked slower and they still would have gone to lunch speratly and not 'tolerated' on another. Here is an example where diversity would not have helped in the workforce. Diversity is simply the aristocracies latest social experiment to divide us so that they can keep us all down rather then letting us become tolerant on our own. A great book.

 

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