Meritocracy: Sociology and American Dream

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Anthony Giddens Pages: 2 (542 words) Published: June 23, 2013
Peter Saunders (1990, 1996) has been one of the most vocal critics of the British tradition of social mobility research encompassing studies such as those done by Glass and Goldthorpe. According to Saunders, Britian is a true meritocracy because rewards go naturally to those who are best able to ‘perform’ and achieve. In his view, ability and effort are the key factors in occupational success, not class background. Saunders uses empirical data from the National Child Development Study to show that children who are bright and hard-working will succeed regardless of the social advantages or disadvantages they may experience. In his estimation, Britain may be an unequal society, but it is a fair one. In response to such claims, Richard Breen and John Goldthorpe criticize Saunders on both theoretical and methodological grounds. The authors conclude that individual merit is certainly a contributing factor in dterminng individuals’ class positions, but that ‘class of origin’ remains a powerful influence. According to Breen and Goldthorpe, children from disadvantaged must show more merit that those who are advantaged to acquire similar class positions. Page 303 Sociology 4th edition by Anthony Giddens 2001 Blackwell Publishing ltd Oxford uk

Meritiocracy – A system in which social positions are filled on the basis of individual merit and achievement, rather than ascribed criteria such as inherited wealth, sex or social background. Pg 693 Schools and Society – info in blue book

If the American Dream of meritocracy is our country’s promise, public education is what ensures that promise to all children. Education more than any institution is the system’s way of making certain that achievement is independently earned, not tied to one’s background. Pg 274

The American Dream does not guarantee that everyone will make it in America but it presumes that despite inequalities in their circumstances each individual will have a fair chance, an equal opportunity and no...
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