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Class inequality and meritocracy: A critique of Saunders and an alternative analysis

Опубликовано на портале: 15-12-2002
British Journal of Sociology. 1999.  Vol. 50. No. 1. P. 1-27. 
Saunders' (1996, 1997) recent work claiming that contemporary British society is to a large extent 'meritocratic' is criticized on conceptual and technical grounds. A reanalysis of the National Child Development Study data-set, used by Saunders, is presented. This reveals that while merit, defined in terms of ability and effort, does play a part in determining individuals' class destinations, the effect of class origins remains strong. Children of less advantaged origins need to show substantially more merit than children from more advantaged origins in order to gain similar class positions. These differences in findings to some extent arise from the correction of biases introduced by Saunders; but there are also features of his own results, consistent with those reported in the reanalysis, which he appears to not fully have appreciated.