The dystopian roots of the concept of “Meritocracy” | Boing Boing

Meritocracy is one of those things that sounds innocuous enough on the surface (hard work pays off! everyone gets rewarded proportionately according to their abilities!), but quickly starts to crumble once you look more closely (how are we measuring these efforts? what about opportunity? unconscious bias? isn’t that ableist?).But, thanks to this great short book review from New Republic, I’ve learned that those uglier aspects of meritocracy aren’t just a debatable side outcome to some egalitarian ideal—the inequality is central to the coinage of the phrase. British sociologist Michael Young wrote The Rise of Meritocracy in 1958; though the concept surely existed before then, his book is largely credited with popularizing it. But, as Win McCormack describes in New Republic, Young was deliberately using the phrase in a pejorative sense:

He imagined a society in which the old class system of Britain had been swept aside; instead of inherited ……

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