Diversity versus Hierarchy: Analysing Meritocracy in Academic and Professional Trajectories

By Harkaitz Zubiri.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper questions meritocracy, which is a social strategy: it is an attempt to make unfair use of diversity. According to meritocracy, the social position of each person is based on individual merits. This is how the strategy of meritocracy tries to build hierarchy. The usage of the so called merits are tools to do it. However, the qualitative research on academic and professional trajectories leads us to a different conclusion: merits are not only achieved individually, the rules of the game are not neutral, and the evaluation criteria are not objective. In fact, power relationships and conflict are the keys to understand this phenomenon. It has nothing to do with justice. This paper proposes a different perspective to analyse academic and professional trajectories. Four social institutions are taken into account: individual, family, education, and work. The constant inter-institutional and intra-institutional negotiations are the keys to analyse how the diverse multitude tends to become immersed in a hierarchical social space.

Keywords: Meritocracy, Hierarchy, Diversity, Education, Working Conditions, Family, Individual

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp.67-77. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 379.596KB).

Dr. Harkaitz Zubiri

Assistant Professor, Department of Didactics and School Organisation, University of the Basque Country, San Sebastian, Spain

Arkaitz Zubiri is an assistant professor in the University of the Basque Country. He studied at Leipzig University, graduated in English philology at the University of Deusto, and graduated in sociology and teaching and received a Ph.D in sociology at the University of the Basque Country. He had a four years doctorate research grant from the Basque government. He is interested in social inequality, minority language and culture, education, literature and working conditions. He has published three books: Zakur Kale (Susa, 2007), short stories about contemporary life; Bertsolaritza. Tradizio Modernoa (University of the Basque Country, 2007), an essay on the current Basque oral literature; and Ibilbide akademiko-profesionalak prekarizazio estratifikatuaren garaian: Meritokrazia auzitan (University of the Basque Country, 2011), an essay on meritocracy.