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A revolutionary new argument from eminent Yale Law professor Daniel
Markovits attacking the false promise of meritocracy It is an axiom of
American life that advantage should be earned through ability and effort.
Even as the country divides itself at every turn, the meritocratic ideal -
that social and economic rewards should follow achievement rather than
breeding - reigns supreme. Both Democrats and Republicans insistently
repeat meritocratic notions. Meritocracy cuts to the heart of who we are.
It sustains the American dream. But what if, both up and down the social
ladder, meritocracy is a sham? Today, meritocracy has become exactly what
it was conceived to resist: a mechanism for the concentration and dynastic
transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Upward mobility
has become a fantasy, and the embattled middle classes are now more likely
to sink into the working poor than to rise into the professional elite. At
the same time, meritocracy now ensnares even those who manage to claw their
way to the top, requiring rich adults to work with crushing intensity,
exploiting their expensive educations in order to extract a return. All
this is not the result of deviations or retreats from meritocracy but
rather stems directly from meritocracy's successes. This is the radical
argument that Daniel Markovits prosecutes with rare force. Markovits is
well placed to expose the sham of meritocracy. Having spent his life at
elite universities, he knows from the inside the corrosive system we are
trapped within. Markovits also knows that, if we understand that
meritocratic inequality produces near-universal harm, we can cure it. When
The Meritocracy Trap reveals the inner workings of the meritocratic
machine, it also illuminates the first steps outward, towards a new world
that might once again afford dignity and prosperity to the American people.

Daniel Markovits—The Meritocracy Trap - How America's Foundational Myth Feeds I

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  • 9780735222014
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