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 ?
Finally, we urge practitioners to invite a scholar to replicate this research in their own organization, if their organization plans to adopt a merit-pay or other meritocratic policy.
The best way is to connect explicitly the massive inequalities fostered by the new meritocratic arrangements that Connecticut enjoys with the bleeding-heart claims of its own purported liberalism and thereby--like the prophets of old--call them to account.
As a German-American "nobody" Jay Gatz "could be chosen for officer training, and specifically promoted to captain, while still at camp, on the basis of his own measurable and observable abilities, in the context of a new meritocratic moment" (81).
They pay the best to get the best and they pay on meritocratic bases.
An adequate meritocratic approach, however, needs to address when one's choices are really one's own.
Nevertheless, the modern higher education system would be inconceivable without its meritocratic foundations.
All these types of conflicts which were explained, some decades earlier, in political terms or, more often, simply underestimated, may be now interpreted thanks to a social and cultural or a meritocratic mode of domination, which has been ignored for a long period (in spite of the prosperity of history of education) because of the liberal, or Marxist, intellectual prejudices in favour of the dominant economic mode of domination, presented as the only key for modern society.
Her meritocratic vision has resulted in women holding 40 percent of Carlson's executive positions, a "surrogate stock" plan for employees, training programs to bring potential ex ecutives up to speed and more.
As a religious reformer, his open, participatory, and meritocratic views pleased neither the Catholics, who regarded him as a heretic, nor the Protestants, whether Lutheran or Reformed, for whom hierarchy and centralized authority had become dominant.
The predominant viewpoint among the upper echelons of corporate America is the meritocratic lens (see "No Longer Just Black and White," Powerplay, this issue).
Intentionally or not, he pinpointed a curious reality of American society: it is being increasingly organized along meritocratic lines.
Schoenfeldt's reading of Paradise Lost argues convincingly that Milton "finds the processes of digestion to exemplify the principles of material transformation that animate his hierarchical yet meritocratic and monist universe.