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date: 19 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines how the concept of opportunity is used in analyses of choices people make and in analyses of social inequality and civil rights. It first considers the distinction between choices made without attention to what other agents do versus choices made strategically taking into account the possible actions of others. It then explains how agents may act to shape the constraints and opportunities they face, as well as how available opportunities may shape preferences. These abstract ideas are applied to the substantive field of inequality, first in the context of civil-rights legislation and debates in theories of justice, and second in an analysis of differential labor market outcomes. More specifically, the article looks at career opportunities and opportunity hoarding in the professions. Finally, it evaluates opportunities for discrimination in employment on the basis of race and sex in the current legal environment.

Keywords: opportunity, choice, inequality, civil rights, preferences, theories of justice, labor market, career opportunities, opportunity hoarding, discrimination in employment

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