Definition of Meritocracy

Imagine a game where the players who put in the most effort and show the best skills win the most points. That’s what meritocracy is like. It is a system in which your hard work and talents are what help you succeed. The more you put into something, whether it’s studying for a test or doing your job, the more you get out of it in terms of rewards like good grades or a better position at work.

Another way to think about meritocracy is like a fair race. Everyone starts at the same starting line, and the one who runs the fastest and has practiced the most wins the race. In a perfect world with meritocracy, it doesn’t matter who your family is or what kind of connections you have. It’s all about how well you do things and how much effort you put into them. Your performance is like your score, and the higher your score, the further you can go in life, just like moving on to the next level in a video game.

Examples of Meritocracy

  • Education: When you take a math test, your grade should reflect how many problems you solved correctly. This is meritocracy in action because your grade is based on your knowledge and effort, not because you’re friends with the teacher.
  • Employment: If a salesperson gets a promotion because they sold the most products, that’s meritocracy. They worked hard to make those sales and are rewarded with a better job title and possibly more pay.
  • Sports: An athlete who wins a championship after training hard and performing well in games is a good example. Their victory comes from their skills and dedication.
  • Awards: Winning a scholarship for college because of outstanding community service or academic achievements shows meritocracy. The scholarship is given to those who demonstrate exceptional abilities or effort.
  • Leadership: When the most capable person is chosen to lead a project or a team, it is a merit-based decision. They are recognized for their abilities to manage and guide others to success.

Why is Meritocracy Important?

Meritocracy is like a promise that if you work hard and do well, you can achieve your dreams. This is important because it offers everyone, no matter where they come from, a fair shot at success. Here’s why meritocracy can be so crucial:

  • It motivates people to give their best effort, knowing that it can lead to great things like higher salaries or winning an award.
  • It ensures that the right people with the right skills are doing important jobs. Just like you wouldn’t want someone who doesn’t know how to cook preparing your meal, you want qualified people in charge of important tasks.
  • It can make society work better as a whole because when rewards are based on how well you do something, it means that people will try harder to do their best.

For the average person, it means that if you study hard for your tests or work diligently at your job, you have a chance to do well in life. This makes people feel hopeful and encourages them to strive for more. And when people feel like they have an honest chance at success, they are often happier and more productive.


Believe it or not, the word ‘meritocracy’ hasn’t been around forever. It was first mentioned in 1958 by a guy named Michael Young. He wanted to warn people that just focusing on smartness and achievements could have some downsides. Though he had some concerns, nowadays, we usually think of meritocracy in a positive light, like getting rewards for being smart and hard-working.


Meritocracy sounds great, but some people wonder if it’s always as fair as it promises to be. What if someone never got the chance to learn and show their skills? Or what if some people still get ahead because they know someone with power? Also, there’s a big question about what ‘merit’ actually means. Is it just about getting high scores, or are other things like teamwork and creativity just as important?

Some worry that putting too much focus on being the best can make people stressed and unhappy. And then there’s the issue of diversity. If we only value certain kinds of success, people with different kinds of talents might not be appreciated as much as they should be.

Other Important Aspects of Meritocracy

  • Social Mobility: Meritocracy is connected to the idea of being able to move up in the world no matter where you start from. It’s supposed to be your abilities and efforts that count, not your family’s wealth or status.
  • Standardized Testing: Tests that everyone takes in the same way are one method to measure merit. But people often argue about whether these tests really catch everything someone can do or if they’re unfair in some way.
  • Gender and Racial Equality: Meritocracy is thought to help make things fair for people of all genders and races. But for that to be true, everyone has to have the same chances from the beginning, which can be tricky to make happen.

Related Topics

  • Equality: This is about giving everyone the same opportunities and treating them fairly, which is a big part of what meritocracy tries to do.
  • Social Justice: This area focuses on making sure that everyone, especially those who are often left out or treated unfairly, gets a fair share of society’s benefits, like good schools and jobs.
  • Educational Reform: Changing how schools work to make sure every student has an equal chance to learn and show their abilities is closely related to meritocracy.
  • Career Development: The ways that people plan and build their careers often depend on a meritocratic system working properly, rewarding hard work and talent.

In conclusion, meritocracy is all about earning success through your own effort and skills. From getting an A on a test to landing your dream job, it supports the idea that your abilities should guide your future. In many ways, it’s like a game where the most hardworking and talented players win the biggest prizes. While meritocracy aims to be fair and give everyone a chance at success, in real life, making sure it works perfectly for everyone can be tough. Understanding the good and the challenges of meritocracy can help us make things better for everyone so that real talent and effort don’t go unnoticed and unrewarded.