Publisher: American Educational Research Journal, 38 (1)
Page Numbers: 3-36
This article presents an analysis of affirmative action policy that takes into account students' vastly different social contexts of choice. Oppressive societal structures may constrain individuals' contexts of choice and thus limit their real choices in such a way that their nominal choices do not reflect their potential talents, abilities, and aspirations. An unfavorable context of choice may hinder students' development of self-determination, which is a crucial underpinning of an education for justice and democracy. The aim of this article is to put forth a defense of affirmative action that is not considered within the current discourse. Because the development of a sense of self-determination is a crucial aim of a good and just education, the author argues that affirmative action is necessary because of its role in combating oppressive educational structures, fostering more favorable social contexts of choice for students, and consequently, their self-determination.