ABSTRACT

Unlike chapter 1, which was written in 1969, and chapters 2, 3, and 4, much of which was written in the 1970s and early 1980s, chapter 5 was written in 2005. It is, therefore, far more historical and reflective than the earlier chapters. I discarded several alternative titles for this essay in favor of the rather bland “State of Social Equity in American Public Administration.” Upon further reflection, and in the interest of a title that is somewhat more descriptive of the tenor of the chapter, today I would probably use a title like “Social Equity in Public Administration: Succeeding in Theory, Struggling in Practice.” The point of this alternative title is that social equity is now broadly accepted in academic and theoretical public administration, as the chapter claims. However, the application of social equity in administrative practice is very complex and challenging. As the chapter points out, applications of social equity to the street-level practices of public administration are freighted with ethical issues. Indeed, a reading of chapter 5 should make clear that social equity is a theoretical perspective on public administration, a set of prescriptions to guide the practices of public administration, and an ethic-the social equity ethic.