chapter  20
13 Pages

The Troublesome Concept of Merit

WithSandra Harding

In this chapter, the author outlines an argument that seeks to explore the concept of merit against a more socially-embedded understanding of social inequality by standing outside of the dominant theoretical perspective of neoclassical economics that drives a merit-based solution. She looks at the issue of gender inequality from other theoretical perspectives. The author provides the necessary theoretical backdrop for her later, specific challenges to the concept of merit as an objective criterion that will set inequality to rights. It discusses this theoretical backdrop to explain inequality at work, focusing on the troublesome concept of merit and looking to alternative approaches to redressing this inequality. Under neoclassical assumptions, workers are recognised only as a factor of production that must be controlled and manipulated to deliver greater and greater efficiencies. Triangulation from a range of alternative bases provides important insights on the problem of the poor placement of women in the academy.