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The Myth of Meritocracy: Why Working-Class Kids Still Get Working-Class Jobs

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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  246 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The best jobs in Britain today are overwhelmingly done by the offspring of privileged parents. Meanwhile, it is increasingly difficult for bright but poor children to transcend their circumstances. This state of affairs should not only worry the poor. It hurts the middle classes too, who are increasingly locked out of the top professions by those from wealthy backgrounds.

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Hardcover, 128 pages
Published May 19th 2016 by Biteback Publishing (first published 2016)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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Start your review of The Myth of Meritocracy: Why Working-Class Kids Still Get Working-Class Jobs
Thom Gething
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This felt like half a book - half an argument. I had not know before that the term 'meritocracy' was in itself created in a satire about the concept, only to embraced at face value by another generation without any sense of irony. It just goes to show how satire is often too close to the truth for its audience to spot the difference.

There are some good sections in the book on income inequality, the power of weak social ties and even how education continues to fail in one of its key roles, creati
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Timothy Green
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A well referenced, well structured, comprehensive discussion. I found it very interesting and it certainly got me thinking about a few things I'd never considered before. ...more
Joelcio Omond
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ótimo livro! Apesar de se referir à situação do Reino Unido, o tema tem uma abrangência global e tem estado cada vez mais presente nos discursos políticos também no Brasil. Isso pode ser visto na insatisfação com políticas sociais, bem como na marginalização daqueles por elas beneficiados, assim como na dificuldade/resistência em diminuir benefícios de grupos privilegiados. Pode ser vista correlação também entre a situação referida no livro e a fragmentação das lutas na esquerda também aqui no B ...more
Robin
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book's importance stems from the pervading belief among most of us (almost all) that a meritocratic society is a just society, that people get what they deserve going in a straight line from hand of divine providence to the fruits of one's own labor. As described in the book even with the UK lagging behind other western nations in terms of growing inequity, polls show majority believing that people still get what they deserve.
A mythological belief in the valorizaton of one's own actions in
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Matt Hunt
I have been looking for a book like this for some time and I'm very pleased to have found this one.
It's a critique of the philosophy of the meritocracy and it's implementation in the politics of the UK. Well written, concisely argued and easy to read. Perhaps a bit short? I could happily have read twice as much and would have appreciated some deeper theoretical considerations, and I would have liked a 'further reading' section. Excellent book nonetheless.
Well worth reading for anyone who has ev
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Elizabeth
May 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
there is a myth that a meritocratic society is a just society.
Mollie Plummer
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
‘Only the meritocrats are seemingly incapable of recognising that human beings are- to some extent- products of their own history’
I really enjoyed this book and the way it takes the reader on a journey from the origin of ‘meritocracy’ to its position in modern politics. I particularly enjoyed the section on Thatcherism and New Labour and how the ideology of a meritocracy was almost central to their failings.
However, I have to agree with previous reviews about it almost being half an argument- it
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Alys
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such an interesting book!! Really short, passionate and easy to read and I would seriously recommend it to anyone as an introduction to modern classism. A lot of it was surrounding stats and debates I've heard before (e.g. grammar schools) and it was a little irritating that he didn't discuss any solutions to these issues. Chapter 8, about identity politics and the modern "left wing" and how (despite all claims of "intersectionality") it excludes working class people, honestly blew me away. It w ...more
Lur Hall
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terminado este libro que se lee en una tarde. Avala con datos lo que ya sospechaba. Es revelador y está plagado de reflexiones que te hielan. "The American author John Steinbeck once observed that socialism never took off in the United States because the poor saw themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." ...more
Liam Mayhew
Aug 18, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting short summary explaining the ineffectiveness of what politicians call 'meritocracy'.
Although the author is detailing his subjective views, which appear at times overtly one-sided and swaying towards socialist discourse; overall the book offers an insight into ideas concerning social equality.
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Tajwar
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book on a fascinating topic, though it feels like an extended essay. Would’ve enjoyed a more detailed argument and case for alternatives.

Although the findings and the premise of the book wasn’t new to me, it does a great job in structuring and outlining the harsh reality British society finds itself in.
George
Oct 24, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2022
Definitely well thought through and well sourced, I feel like this book could have done with an argument for an alternative. It was definitely interesting and thought provoking read and opened my eyes somewhat to the political landscape that passed me by whilst I grew up.

Read on lunch breaks in the early hours.
Billy
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Bloodworth does an excellent job in highlighting how far the UK is away from becoming a meritocracy and why it shouldn’t be our aim. An insightful read albeit the depressing realism of the situation.

‘A more egalitarian society would ensure that everyone could live well, whereas a meritocratic society would endlessly remind the drudged of their worthlessness’.
Steve Angelkov
Interesting collection of articles compiled into a concise book.

The myth of meritocracy details the political concept of social mobility, the supposed free market opportunity for all people.

The biggest spin of it all is making the working classes / general population 'believe' that a movement has a genuine benefit, when it fact it has the complete opposite effect.

Brexit anyone??
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Juan Vigeuras
Dec 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Muy buena la tesis final del libro: no hay que dar oportunidades a todo el mundo para que puedan triunfar, porque eso significa que habrá triunfadores y perdedores. Hay que cambiar la percepción con respecto al éxito y a la meritocracia social. Solo se centra en Estados Unidos, pero salvando las distancias se puede aplicar a España.
Loke Vanessa
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although the book is mainly written in the context of the western world in Britain specifically, the tone of it covers a wide range of voices from across the countries/societies.
Ollie
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Great read, well researched with some very pertinent points, especially on class. Felt a bit short, more like a series of articles as the subject could most certainly fill volumes.
Agnes
Apr 08, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2021
Oh, what a load of leftist ox poo!!!
Millie Yule
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
It was a good argument against meritocracy. It also explained how class inequalities in Britian are still present and how, despite thinking that we are, Britian is not a meritocracy
Indra Permana
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Now I know how competition ought to be
Ioan
Mar 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Other than the one before the last chapter, this book is near perfection
Joseph Busa
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, concise and to the point. Recommended reading for those who rally behind the #allaboutme movements.
Alex Monegro
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short and to the point, and very well structured. If you want to explore a concise argument as to why a meritocracy is not a just society, read this book.
Amanda Coad
This book is a good look at the issues and reasons behind the system.
Jonathan Jenner
Aug 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
A short read that starkly lays out reasons to be very, very angry with the UK's power structures - particularly with regards to its education system. ...more
MR ALEXANDER DICKINSON
More dense and heavy going than Hired, so not as accessible. It reads like a thesis. Still interesting, and quite damning.
Alex Bond
May 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I DNF'd this book much later than I should have - some 89% complete.

The killing blow? When James claimed that being openly gay in parts of Britain today meant death - with nothing to support the claim.

A real chore to slog through, this book clearly bypassed the editor phase. Mind-numbing.

Further, a high school debating society holds more solid arguments than those contained within this waste of paper. The author starts making points but never arrives at any logical conclusion, on and on, repetit
...more
Miranda
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Incredibly thought-provoking, this book really made me think about things slightly deeper than I had before. Should be widely read.
Taj
rated it liked it
Apr 13, 2018
Pamela Cooke
rated it it was amazing
Sep 27, 2018
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James Bloodworth is an English writer and the author of two books, The Myth of Meritocracy and Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain. His work has appeared in the Guardian, the Times, New York Review of Books, New Statesman and elsewhere. He is on Twitter as @J_Bloodworth.

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