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The Meritocracy Trap : How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite
by Daniel Markovits




Overview -
A revolutionary new argument from eminent Yale Law professor Daniel Markovits attacking the false promise of meritocracy


It is an axiom of American life that advantage should be earned through ability and effort. Even as the country divides itself at every turn, the meritocratic ideal--that social and economic rewards should follow achievement rather than breeding--reigns supreme. Both Democrats and Republicans insistently repeat meritocratic notions. Meritocracy cuts to the heart of who we are. It sustains the American dream.

But today, meritocracy has become exactly what it was conceived to resist: a mechanism for the concentration and dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Middle-class children lose out to rich children at school; and middle-class adults lose out to elite graduates at work. Upward mobility has become a fantasy, and the embattled middle class is more likely to sink into the working poor than to rise into the professional elite. At the same time, meritocracy now ensnares the elite as well, requiring rich adults to work with crushing intensity, exploiting their expensive educations in order to extract a return. The enormous inequalities punish even those who manage to claw their way to the top.

What if this isn't a result of deviations or retreats from meritocracy but rather stems directly from meritocracy's successes? What if, both up and down the social ladder, meritocracy itself is a sham?

This is the radical argument that Daniel Markovits prosecutes with rare force. Markovits is well placed to expose the sham of meritocracy. Having spent his life at elite universities, he knows from the inside the corrosive system we are trapped within. Markovits also knows that, if we understand that meritocratic inequality produces near-universal harm, we can cure it. The inner movements of the meritocratic machine that reveal the construction of the meritocracy trap also illuminate the first steps outward, toward a new world that might once again afford dignity and prosperity to the American people.

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More About The Meritocracy Trap by Daniel Markovits

 
 
 

Overview

A revolutionary new argument from eminent Yale Law professor Daniel Markovits attacking the false promise of meritocracy


It is an axiom of American life that advantage should be earned through ability and effort. Even as the country divides itself at every turn, the meritocratic ideal--that social and economic rewards should follow achievement rather than breeding--reigns supreme. Both Democrats and Republicans insistently repeat meritocratic notions. Meritocracy cuts to the heart of who we are. It sustains the American dream.

But today, meritocracy has become exactly what it was conceived to resist: a mechanism for the concentration and dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Middle-class children lose out to rich children at school; and middle-class adults lose out to elite graduates at work. Upward mobility has become a fantasy, and the embattled middle class is more likely to sink into the working poor than to rise into the professional elite. At the same time, meritocracy now ensnares the elite as well, requiring rich adults to work with crushing intensity, exploiting their expensive educations in order to extract a return. The enormous inequalities punish even those who manage to claw their way to the top.

What if this isn't a result of deviations or retreats from meritocracy but rather stems directly from meritocracy's successes? What if, both up and down the social ladder, meritocracy itself is a sham?

This is the radical argument that Daniel Markovits prosecutes with rare force. Markovits is well placed to expose the sham of meritocracy. Having spent his life at elite universities, he knows from the inside the corrosive system we are trapped within. Markovits also knows that, if we understand that meritocratic inequality produces near-universal harm, we can cure it. The inner movements of the meritocratic machine that reveal the construction of the meritocracy trap also illuminate the first steps outward, toward a new world that might once again afford dignity and prosperity to the American people.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735221994
  • ISBN-10: 0735221995
  • Publisher: Penguin Press
  • Publish Date: September 2019
  • Page Count: 448
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds


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