Why Working-Class Kids Still Get Working-Class Jobs (Provocations Series)
Author: James Bloodworth
Publisher: Biteback Publishing
Category: Political Science
The best jobs in Britain today are overwhelmingly done by the children of the wealthy. Meanwhile, it is increasingly difficult for bright but poor kids to transcend their circumstances. This state of affairs should not only worry the less well-off. It hurts the middle classes too, who are increasingly locked out of the top professions by those from affluent backgrounds. Hitherto, Labour and Conservative politicians alike have sought to deal with the problem by promoting the idea of 'equality of opportunity'. In politics, social mobility is the only game in town, and old socialist arguments emphasising economic equality are about as fashionable today as mullets and shell suits. Yet genuine equality of opportunity is impossible alongside levels of inequality last seen during the 1930s. In a grossly unequal society, the privileges of the parents unfailingly become the privileges of the children. A vague commitment from our politicians to build a 'meritocracy' is not enough. Nor is it desirable: a perfectly stratified meritocracy, in which everyone knew their station based on 'merit', would be a deeply unpleasant place to live. Any genuine attempt to improve social mobility must start by reducing the gap between rich and poor. PROVOCATIONS is a groundbreaking new series of short polemics composed by some of the most intriguing voices in contemporary culture and edited by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. Sharp, intelligent and controversial, Provocations provides insightful contributions to the most vital discussions in society today.
From New York Times bestselling author and economics columnist Robert Frank, a compelling book that explains why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in their success, why that hurts everyone, and what we can do about it How important is luck in economic success? No question more reliably divides conservatives from liberals. As conservatives correctly observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always talented and hardworking. But liberals are also correct to note that countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much. In recent years, social scientists have discovered that chance plays a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people imagine. In Success and Luck, bestselling author and New York Times economics columnist Robert Frank explores the surprising implications of those findings to show why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in success—and why that hurts everyone, even the wealthy. Frank describes how, in a world increasingly dominated by winner-take-all markets, chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones—and enormous income differences—over time; how false beliefs about luck persist, despite compelling evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape individual and political choices in harmful ways. But, Frank argues, we could decrease the inequality driven by sheer luck by adopting simple, unintrusive policies that would free up trillions of dollars each year—more than enough to fix our crumbling infrastructure, expand healthcare coverage, fight global warming, and reduce poverty, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. If this sounds implausible, you'll be surprised to discover that the solution requires only a few, noncontroversial steps. Compellingly readable, Success and Luck shows how a more accurate understanding of the role of chance in life could lead to better, richer, and fairer economies and societies.
One of the most savage critiques of Modernity ever written on so-called Democracy (in its many forms), Meritocracy, What is Truth - Fact or Fiction, the Mass Media and Individualism. Meaning in essence that Socrates famous axiom is as relevant today as it was in the past, which was according to Plato: ‘that the unexamined life is not worth living’.
Meritocracy today involves the idea that whatever your social position at birth, society ought to offer enough opportunity and mobility for ‘talent’ to combine with ‘effort’ in order to ‘rise to the top’. This idea is one of the most prevalent social and cultural tropes of our time, as palpable in the speeches of politicians as in popular culture. In this book Jo Littler argues that meritocracy is the key cultural means of legitimation for contemporary neoliberal culture – and that whilst it promises opportunity, it in fact creates new forms of social division. Against Meritocracy is split into two parts. Part I explores the genealogies of meritocracy within social theory, political discourse and working cultures. It traces the dramatic U-turn in meritocracy’s meaning, from socialist slur to a contemporary ideal of how a society should be organised. Part II uses a series of case studies to analyse the cultural pull of popular ‘parables of progress’, from reality TV to the super-rich and celebrity CEOs, from social media controversies to the rise of the ‘mumpreneur’. Paying special attention to the role of gender, ‘race’ and class, this book provides new conceptualisations of the meaning of meritocracy in contemporary culture and society.
The Meritocracy Myth challenges the widely held American belief in meritocracy—that people get out of the system what they put into it based on individual merit. The third edition has been revised and streamlined, with fresh examples and updated statistical information throughout. Chapters eight and nine have been combined into a comprehensive chapter about discrimination as a non-merit barrier to upward mobility. The book also features a new section on “The Great Recession.” The Meritocracy Myth examines talent, attitude, work ethic, and character as elements of merit, and evaluates the effect of non-merit factors such as social status, race, heritage, and wealth on meritocracy. A compelling book on an often-overlooked topic, The Meritocracy Myth has become a classroom classic to introduce students to this provocative topic.
How the American Myth of Meritocracy Legitimizes Social Inequality and Containment Practices in Education
Author: Mary Molly Lockwood
Category: Discrimination in education
Meritocracy is often mentioned in discussions of social inequality, stratification, oppression and "White Privilege," but it is seldom investigated as to its ubiquitous role as a dominant inaugurator of social inequality in America today. Emanating from the central liberal concept that opportunities to compete for resources and goods are fair and equal for everyone, the American social justice ideal of "meritocratic equality" masks the realities of group determinants in relation to the anatomies of "hegemonies of power" in American culture. Disingenuously deflecting inequality issues from institutional inefficacy onto individual inadequacies and obfuscating fundamental issues of injustice, America's "meritocratic myth" camouflages meritocratic individualism's role as a catalytic agent behind group differential practices in America's social, political and economic architecture. This discursive analysis critiques the puissant connections between meritocratic individualism (meritocracy) and the conceptions and practices of dominant "Americanized" identities, ideology and institutions. It particularly brings into focus the ways meritocracy legitimizes practices of social inequality, especially within the institution of public education. Meritocracy is examined through the lens of myth, as an abstracted ideology whose "universal" tenets have become habituated through uncontested religious, social, psychological and historical processes, which this paper explores. Critical Race Theory provides the analytical framework to examine supposedly "neutral" principles of the "fair" and "good" society in relationship to widely accepted principles of merit, ability, performance and "deservedness." In particular, education's "accountability-consciousness" is deconstructed to expose this politically motivated, euphemistic ploy in perpetuating surveillance/containment practices that recreate racial, social and cultural stratifications, while deftly casting pathology onto the individual, rather than institutional policy and practice.