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Limits of Meritocracy. How Fields of Study and Gender Segregation Affect Social Stratification in Finland
According to the ideal of meritocracy, achievement is the most legitimate principle for both selenting and rewarding individuals within the hierarchy of social positions.
Focusing primarily on Finnish data, the research problem at the core of this dissertation asks to what extent a meritocratic interpretation of social stratification can be mantained empirically. Fields of study play a central role in this analysis: not only are they likely to channel individuals into different labour market segments, but the choice of educational fields continues to be highly influenced by gender.
The findings of this study reveal that educational qualifications are not a homogeneous asset on the labour market, but their importance varies significantly between individuals' fields of study. It is argued that these results challenge individual-centred, meritocratic accounts of social strtification and further underline the problematic lack of structural and institutional dimensions in the usual account of social status attainment.
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