meritocracy

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meritocracy

1. rule by persons chosen not because of birth or wealth, but for their superior talents or intellect
2. the persons constituting such a group
3. a social system formed on such a basis

meritocracy

a form of society in which educational and social success is the outcome of ability (measured by IQ) and individual effort. The notion, given prominence by Michael Young (The Rise of the Meritocracy, 1958), figured prominently in the work of Fabian socialists who did much to promote it as a guiding principle to legitimate the changes sought in the 1944 Education Act and the subsequent drive to secondary reorganization along comprehensive lines. Meritocracy emphasizes equality of competition rather than equality of outcome, assuming that positions in an occupational hierarchy will be obtained as a result of achievement on merit against universal, objective criteria, rather than on ascribed criteria of age, gender, race, or inherited wealth. No person of quality, competence or appropriate character should be denied the opportunity to achieve a commensurate social status. Essential to the concept of meritocracy is the belief that only a limited pool of talent exists and that it is an important function of the education system to see that such talent is not wasted but is developed and fostered. (See also FUNCTIONALIST THEORY OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION).

The principle of meritocracy is by no means universally accepted. Young himself was ambivalent about some of its consequences, e.g. a denuding of working-class culture and working-class leadership. Major criticisms have also come from those who argue that genuine EQUALITY can only be achieved by the adoption of strategies which are designed to produce greater equality as an end product of the system rather than at its starting point. In any event, those advocating the meritocratic view have to resolve the recurring difficulty of devising objective measures of ability. See also INTELLIGENCE.

References in periodicals archive ?
Instead, the prevailing common sense argues that merit has been corrupted by a system of entitlements that hands out privileges and advantages to people who don't deserve them: unqualified graduate students and intellectuals who are recruited into academia because "excellence," to use a favorite word of meritocrats, has been sacrificed to "the ideology of equality.
Needless to say, these concentrated centers of meritocrats are drawn to progressive political programs, often providing key electoral and financial support for liberal candidates in Blue States.
There is the Organization Kid, the dutiful meritocrat who spends high school amassing "extracurriculars" and his college years trying to climb the system instead of bucking it.
Clinton was a meritocrat who began life as a poor white kid in Arkansas with an alcoholic stepfather and ended it as the first Democrat to win a second term since Harry Truman.
For the American meritocrat, life, until age 40 or so anyway, is an intense race through such institutions, which might include SATs, admissions offices, law school, law review, clerkship, the associates program, and, finally, partnership.
We were idealists and meritocrats and we thought they were wrong.
Thus abolition on the terms of the mainstream meritocrats provides the palimpsest for a new inscription of a coloniality-free Canada.
If you drink the best wine, eat at the best restaurants, drive the best car, clothe yourself at the best tailors and designers, and stay at the best hotels, you need to work on Wall Street--which is exactly where many of the cleverest meritocrats headed in the 1980s.
Our meritocrats really don't know what they're supposed to do with their money and power.
A central feature of this system was the replacement of the local rule of aristocratic elements by a class of official meritocrats, empowered by the central government and selected by competitive examination.
Meritocrats admit that market-based distribution of rewards is just only to the extent to which we can reduce endemic socioeconomic disadvantages and bring everyone to comparable starting points.
Daniels notes that "most meritocrats believe it is obvious that people differ in levels of skill and it is at least probable that they differ in the capacity to acquire levels of skills.