(noun) A system that fosters and rewards personal effort, ability, and talent through competition to determine social standing.

Audio Pronunciation: (mer·i·toc·ra·cy)

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  • “In the image of the American Dream, America is the land of opportunity. Presumably, if you work hard enough and are talented enough, you can overcome any obstacle and achieve success. No matter where you start out in life, the sky is ostensibly the limit. According to the promise implied by the American Dream, you can go as far as your talents and abilities can take you” (McNamee and Miller 2013:1).
  • “While ‘merit’ is characteristic of individuals, ‘meritocracy’ is a characteristic of societies as a whole” (McNamee and Miller 2013:1).

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McNamee, Stephen J., and Robert K. Miller. 2013. The Meritocracy Myth. 3rd. ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.