ABSTRACT

Both within and outside academia, social activists sometimes pursue incompatible goals. Psychological and sociological research shows that trade-offs exist, which means that the pursuit of one socially desirable goal can come at the cost of another goal. In this chapter, I illustrate two trade-offs that applied social scientists who conduct research on social justice should consider. The first trade-off is between unity (colorblindness) and proportionality (color consciousness) in the promotion of interethnic harmony. A unity-based approach that emphasizes an inclusive community should not highlight internal divisions. Yet a proportionality-based approach must highlight such internal divisions in order to provide greater compensation to victimized subgroups. The second trade-off is between distributional parity and intrinsic fulfillment in attempts to increase female representation in science and math. Attempts to create parity sometimes involve pulling women out of fields that they are intrinsically motivated to pursue, a change that can reduce their subjective well-being. For both trade-offs, I show that empirical evidence supports my claim of a trade-off and that influential researchers have neglected the trade-off in question.