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Senior sociology major Chen-Yu (Andy) Wu was awarded third prize in the 46th Annual Midwest Sociological Society Student Paper Competition. The Midwest Sociological Society (MSS), founded in 1936, is a professional organization of academic and applied sociologists as well as students of the discipline.


In contrast to most countries with affirmative action policies, Malaysia and South Africa have both established policies whose intended beneficiaries make up the majority of their respective populations. Despite their many social and historical similarities, the rationales employed by both states to justify their affirmative action policies turned out to be extremely different: Malaysia's justifications were “retributive” in nature, whereas South Africa's justifications were “restitutive.” This comparative-and-historical paper seeks not only to determine the factors that caused these different outcomes, but also to provide an alternate perspective to existing scholarship on affirmative action policies, most of which focus on minority-beneficiary nations. I argue that the variations in outcomes can be traced back to their respective transitions to independence, which set in motion historical processes resulting in two fundamentally different societies in terms of how political and economic power were initially distributed and how it transformed to their present-day outcomes.

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