The notions of merit and equal opportunity constitute not only the precepts of a society where strong inequalities persist, but that they are, in certain ways, contrary to justice. Read More
The notions of merit and equal opportunity have so many devotees that they have become the foundation of a certain neoliberal political viewpoint. This work demonstrates that they constitute not only the precepts of a society where strong inequalities persist, but that they are, in certain ways, contrary to justice.
Marie Duru-Bellat presents the analysis of what one generally hears about merit, the logic that's conferred to us at school, and how this perception evolves in the course of professional life, underlining its arbitrary social characteristics. She then reviews the structural factors (social, psychological, economic) which determine the destiny of an individual, rejecting the deeply individualist rhetoric of merit, which would espouse that the situation of the individual strictly follows from personal choices.
Finally, Merit Vs. Justice emphasizes the necessity to equate the principal of merit with other principles - doubtless giving less weight to diplomas - and redefine its content. It's the sacrosanct French style meritocracy which is thus dissected and put into question!
Marie Duru-Bellat is a sociologist, specializing in questions of education, a professor at Sciences Po Paris and a researcher at Observatoire sociologique du changement (OSC) and at Institut de recherche en éducation (Iredu). She works on the subjects of educational politics, and social and gender inequality in the academic system - both in France and in Europe.