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Disentangling meritocracy among the long-range upwardly mobile: the Chilean case

Fercovic Cerda, Malik (2022) Disentangling meritocracy among the long-range upwardly mobile: the Chilean case. Sociological Research Online, 27 (1). 118 – 135. ISSN 1360-7804

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1360780420963395


In a world of rising income and wealth inequalities, studying popular concern or consent about inequality, social mobility and meritocracy is increasingly relevant. However, while there is growing body of research on the explanations individuals provide for inequality in the US and Europe, there is a striking absence of studies addressing how people experiencing long-range upward mobility relate to meritocratic values in Latin American societies. In this article I draw upon on 60 life-course interviews to examine how long-range upwardly mobile individuals – those who best embody the meritocratic ideal – explain their success in Chilean society. Internationally well-known for the implementation of radical neoliberal reforms since the mid 1970s, Chile has both elevated levels of inequality and high rates of occupational mobility. Contrary to the individual-centred approach to meritocratic success dominant in the existing literature, my findings reveal a strong collective framing in respondents’ accounts and the acknowledgement of external factors shaping their upward trajectories. These findings bear important conceptual, methodological and geographical implications for the future study of social mobility and meritocratic values.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 11:09
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2024 06:03

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