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Concept of Meritocracy.

Some Non merit factors which can influence a students’ educational outcomes.


Social capital

Positive discrimination.

Cultural capital


Reduced rate of self employment.





Concept of Meritocracy

Meritocratic equality is based on the notion of equal opportunities opposition to subjective discrimination. This type of education system requires that opportunities in education are provided according to the individual merit (, n.d.). Education is often considered as a fundamental material for increasing merit. Schools are universally accepted and are instituted as meritocratic institution. From a functional point of view, a meritocratic education system is necessarily important (James, 2007) and a successful way in which society allocates education that ensure utmost possible continuity and stability of the society.

But the structure of meritocracy in Australia itself is contradictory. Reviewing by merit may be misplacement in case of education since education is supposed to develop merit, in the form of skills and qualifications (Macnamee, 2014) in the sense that education is often considered as fundamental material for increasing the merit and when education will be distributed according to the system of merit than there will a question arise of how person can increase his ability of merit when its fundamental material is itself will be based upon merit ?

In Australia, the immigration myth and the meritocracy myth make a powerful mix. The global financial crisis of 2008 started to uncover the fact the financial rewards have now become disconnected from merit or utility. Michael Young in 1958 in his novel “The rise of meritocracy” showed how awful a truly meritocratic society was supposed to be.

Crawford (2010) explains problems with meritocratic idea as to confront the false and misled idea that societies are meritocratic is an awkward task the principle of meritocracy is presented as universally accepted, justifies, ethical and with a notion of fairness.

Some Non Merit Factors Which Can Influence a Students’ Educational Outcomes


The race to get ahead does not start with every generation but the baton is passed on by generations to generations. It’s a form of relay racing in which next generation inherit some advantage or disadvantage from his/her starting point. In this line, the poorest has no advantage to provide (Macnamee, 2014).

Rest passes some or other form of non meritorious advantages to their children. All other pass on some form non merit advantages to their children who include improved childhood standard of living, different access to networks of power and influence, transfer of material resources from parents to children, increased health and life expectancy.

In a capitalist society, wealth becomes more concentrated in the hands of a few, so the advantages of the children of these few increase and the subsequently, the chances of disadvantages of a number of people increases (Crawford, 2010).

Social Capital

Social capital refers to social resources: individual and family connections in large community, at work, in schools, at profession which can mediate on matters of access to opportunity (MacNamee & Miller, 2014).

This is, to some extent, related to inheritance as value of who one knows. Everybody has friends or relatives, what is different are the capacity of these networks in the form of power, capacity and resources. Thus, it helps to have family and relatives at high places thereby a social capital inherited. Some researches support the notion that beyond merit alone, your connections and relations are the main attributes that matter (Martin, 2004).

Positive Discrimination

Positive discrimination is a tool which is provided to the many as positive measures or special measures. It aims to focus on greater equality by supporting the community or groups of people who face or have faced in the past some kind of discrimination which have barred them from providing them with the utmost and equal opportunities to develop themselves for greater life quality as compared to other subjects of the country. For example, measures are taken to improve equality of opportunity for people based on caste, creed, sex or origin. Special measures can also be taken for people facing inequality based on creed, color, race, disability or sex.

Cultural Capital

Inheritance is also related to the some of the prestigious forms of cultural capital. Cultural capital means knowledge of patterns of life of the community to which a person belongs including his/her norms, beliefs, code of conduct, social policies. It accepted and generally seen that full acceptance in a society of privileged requires certain ways of code of conduct of that society. And that the group culture separates insiders from outsiders. With growing up in the privileged culture and community, children of the elite are continuously and seamlessly socialized into elite ways. This kind of cultural capital acquired is referred to as ‘refinement’ or “savoir faire” (Calarco, 2014).

Those who aspire to include themselves in this kind of elite circle must acquire this knowledge of the code of conduct and norms from outside which can be very difficult to learn as compared to the children of the privileged who had gained this through an osmotic process and the person can be negatively labeled as a “social climber” (Lareau, 2011).


Education can be considered as both a merit and non merit factor in the in the race to get privileged. It is a merit in the facts that credits and diplomas are earned and cannot be inherited or purchased. Education can also be classed as a non merit factor as access to educational quality is tracked by different social classes and marginalize and/or include the person accordingly and that the system of inheritance starts thereafter regarding the classes. For example a child studied in a public aided school will have a prejudicial notion of non acceptance in the higher society than to a child who has studied in a well known and prestigious private school, till the child does attain something institutionally to make him eligible for acceptance in the privileged class (Ernisch, Jantti & Smeeding, 2012).

New evidence on the effects of education on life gives impact of casting a long shadow of early childhood development on academic success and adult life. Cognitive and social behavioral traits on the school readiness are highly correlated to social background. Privileged ones are primarily ahead of the non privileged in cognitive ability, social skills and cultural capital at the time of entering the school. Moreover, the gap in the expenses of investing these activities has been increasing over time with increased utility (Cornich & Furstenberg, 2012).

Government subsidies for higher education have been decreased and the cost now bearded by students or parents which furthers the gap between spending. Student debt nearly tripled between 2004 and 2012 and by 2010 became the second largest household debt (Hershbein & Hollenbeck, 2014) .

Reduced Rate of Self Employment

Being self employed and starting a new business has been a pathway towards being privileged. Being self employed shows signs of self made person, striking on one’s own and being own boss. It shows independence, self reliance, initiative and self confidence to entry towards the higher classes. However, the percentage of people self employed has drastically decreased over time from 80% in 1800s to approximately 10% (MacNamee, 2014). The reality of entrepreneurship has been less than privilege with long hours of working and lower earnings to fund their healthcare, household spending, vacations etc. The decrease in the levels of self employment has supported the ascent of large corporations that further restrict entrepreneurship.


Discrimination is also a non merit factor in that it an exact opposite of merit. There are certain forms of discriminations in addition to racial and sexual discrimination which is discrimination on the basis of age religion, cast, color, creed, disabled, discrimination based on sexual identity and orientation, or preferential treatment towards the attractive, known as ‘lookism’ (Shaw & McMohan, 2005). Although these discriminations have decreased in the society as education level increased, these discriminations though publicly denied exist in a tacit form but with same disturbing effects. These forms of discriminations cost the victim loss of opportunity and creating a starting point for consecutive generations.


Luck of both good and bad kind can be identified as a non merit factor to get ahead. The best chance for securing a seat, giving a test or training schedule to be at the right place at the right time with the right mindset also matters for acquiring quality education and social and cultural capital and into that privileged class.. Although the world today as a whole is getting more education. In fact, willingness to take chances and risking capital is the main component for justification of capitalism. Although defenders of merit deny luck factor, inheritance, venture, investments or lottery necessarily shows some degree of luck.

Conclusion on Meritocratic Equality in Australian Education Sector

The concept of meritocracy and the myth about it has been discussed effectively with some non meritocratic factors which can and have affected the allocation of goods and services and in the education sector, since both the meritocratic and non meritocratic factors affect the system and neither can be ruled out totally, as it has been seen during the research that both the factors have attracted a significant number of researches and publications. Forms of discriminations cost the victim loss of opportunity and creating a starting point for consecutive generations, it is very obvious that for providing equality for all the opportunities, both the factors have to be kept in mind.

References for Meritocratic Equality in Australian Education Sector

Calarco, J.M. (2014). Coached for the classroom: parents’ cultural transmission and children’s reproduction of educational inequalities. American Sociological Review. DOI:

Crawford, K. (2010). Schooling, Citizenship and the Myth of the Meritocracy. Citizenship, Social and Economics Education 9(1). Retrieved from (n.d.). Meritocracy. Retrieved from

Ernische, J., Jantti, M. & Smeeding, T.M. (2012). Early schooling and later outcomes. From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage. Retrieved from

Hershbein, B. & Hollenbeck, N. (2014). Measuring student debt and its performance. Student Loans and the Dynamics of Debt. Retrieved from

James, R. (2007). Social equity in a mass, globalised higher education environment: the unresolved issue of widening access to university. University of Melbourne. Retrieved from

Kornich, S. & Frustenberg, F. (2012). Investing in Children: Changes in Parental Spending on Children, 1972–2007. Retrieved from

Lareau, A. (2011). Power and limits of social class. Unequal childhoods. Published by: University of California press. LA. Retrieved from

MacMohan, B. & Shaw, L.R. (2005). Workplace Discrimination and Disability. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 23. Retrieved from

MacNamee, S. & Miller, R. (2014). The silver spoon: inheritance and the staggered start. Meritocracy Myth. Published by: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. UK.

MacNamee, S.J. (2014). The meritocracy myth revisited. Sociation Today 12 (2). Retrieved from

Martin, R. (2004). Social Policy and Social Capital: A Clear Case of Putting Merit before Method?. Social Policy and Society 3 (2). Retrieved from

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