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Meritocracy: A widespread ideology due to school socialization?

Abstract : The following research focuses on the perception of meritocracy and the support for an education-based meritocracy among individuals. The impact of education at both micro- (individual) and macro- (country) level has been closely investigated through this study, as education is supposed to influence the support for dominant ideologies since Bourdieu and Passeron (1970). However, these researchers propose no empirical evidence for their theory. Moreover, the influence of education is not straightforward, as education may have contradictory effects on the justification of social inequalities (Baer and Lambert 1982), and the impact of education may be different at the individual level or at the country level. Comparative data from ISSP Social Inequality III (1999) survey were examined. Multilevel analysis has been conducted on these data. It has been proved that, at the individual level, education is effective in strengthening the support for education-based meritocracy but it has a more uncertain impact on the perception of social positions as deserved. At the macro level, some national patterns also have an impact on perceived and preferred meritocracy. Perceived meritocracy proves to be correlated with the expansion of the educational system, while the support for education-based meritocracy is correlated with the average returns to education in a country. Beyond educational characteristics, our results show that other economic and social variables can affect representations, such as gender and age at the
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Marie Duru-Bellat, Elise Tenret. Meritocracy: A widespread ideology due to school socialization?. 2010. ⟨hal-00972712⟩

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