The abilities of privileged children can appear magnified beyond actual proportions, whereas the abilities of many economically deprived children can be suppressed or never recognized. The fertile advantages and social networks of privilege account for much undue magnification, and oppressive, socioeconomic barriers to aspiration, talent discovery, and achievement account greatly for suppression and disregard. Most people assume that free-market, democratic societies are meritocracies in which the gifted and talented rise in status, wealth, and achievement according to their individual abilities. This is true to some extent. Nevertheless, “merit” can be misunderstood because face-value merit, reflecting the advantages of birth into privileged socioeconomic status, often is confounded with the broader, truer merit of one's actions in the world. As a result, upper-middle class and elite children ...

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