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Anti-discrimination legislation represents a halting step towards recognition by the state that women and minority groups (Aborigines, migrants, gays, people with a disability and those espousing unpopular religious and political views) constitute underclasses in our society. This study attempts to show that blind faith in the law as a beneficent agent of social change is misplaced. Not only does the liberal commitment to individualism undermine the communal or class-based nature of discrimination, but the legal culture itself operates to uphold the power of the socially superior.;The author describes how such a subversive result can be achieved through the application of the ostensibly neutral principles of legal doctrine. Within a broad contextual framework and focusing on the Australian experience, this work examines the innovative substance and procedure associated with equal opportunity practices.;In the conclusion, this critique of liberalism in action contemplates the implications of communitarian social theory for women and minority groups and finds that it is also likely to be wanting.