Australians like the idea of meritocracy – the idea that rewards should allocated on the basis of ability and effort. Meritocracy is often contrasted with rewards being based on luck or privilege. In an unmeritocratic society, rewards go to people who are already privileged.
Some overlapping questions from the Australian component of the 1992 International Social Science Survey and the 2009 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes let us see how perceptions of opportunity in Australia have changed.
The question are about ‘opportunities for getting ahead’, and ask how important various characteristics are. Most Australians see race and gender as ‘not very important’ or ‘not important at all’ for getting ahead. Indeed, there has been a dramatic change in perceptions of how important race is in getting ahead. Continue reading “The rise and reproduction of meritocracy”