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Meritocracy

  • By: Mara Ellen Sapon-Shevin
  • In: Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies
  • Edited by: Craig Kridel
  • Subject:Cultural Studies (general), Curriculum & Content (general), Curriculum Studies

A meritocracy can be defined as a system in which the rewards (wealth and privilege) are distributed according to individual merit. In other words, good things will accrue to those who work hard and do well. A meritocratic society is generally distinguished from an aristocratic one in which wealth, position, and privilege were received as a function of one's ancestry and family background. In theory, a meritocratic society is more fair because any individual has the possibility of being successful and achieving at a high level. In actuality, meritocratic beliefs are often linked to decisions about differential access to rigorous curriculum and high level pedagogy that maintain social-economic stratification among students. For this reason, conceptions of meritocracy impact greatly the areas of curriculum design and ...

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