, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 340–347 | Cite as

The Degradation of Merit

  • Joseph C. HermanowiczEmail author
Symposium: Varsity Blues

There will be controversy and dissent in the allocation of rewards when rewards are scarce and the criteria for distributing them are unclear. This is a problem of “distributive justice.” More people believe they are eligible for the reward than there are rewards to go around. There are, at face, two solutions: make the rewards more numerous or make the criteria clearer. The problem with the first solution is that there is a point when the rewards are made so numerous as to no longer constitute a reward. The problem with the second solution is that all definitions involve boundaries, and in drawing boundaries some subset will believe they have been unreasonably excluded. There are other, less straightforward, solutions. They extend from the first solution above by effectively reducing demand for the said reward. One is to make the substance of the reward clearer, and by doing so, enlighten those who seek it that in fact they would be better matched for some other reward. Another is to...


College admissions Merit Selectivity Massification Grade inflation Elite Corruption Universities 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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