‘Education Based Meritocracy’: Towards a Critique of Post-War Liberal Democracy’s Most Popular Myth

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This paper explores the role of education during the post-World War II period. It draws on findings from a mixed methods study on social mobility and education in the North West Greece in order to explain the potential and impact of educational attainments on the lives of residents in this area.
In particular, the paper focuses on the political proclamation of ‘education based meritocracy’, which has been pervasive in post-War Greece. The aims of such a focus are twofold: firstly, to offer an explanation about the strong emphasis that has been placed on the role of education in the promotion of individuals’ socio-economic advancement. Secondly, to enhance our understanding about the episodic role that education has had in Greece over the course of the last 60 years or so.
The type of development that liberal capitalist democracies, such as Greece, had pursued after the War is advanced as the prism through which to understand the ephemeral impact of education on people’s occupational careers and concomitant socio-economic advancement. The central argument of the paper is that the impact of educational credentials on people’s occupational and broader socio-economic progress has been circumscribed by the systemic inequalities that liberal and neo-liberal capitalist societies have nurtured over the same period of time.


Keywords: Education,Meritocracy, Social Mobility, Post-War Liberal Democracy, Greece, Inequalities.
Stream: Equity, Social Justice and Social Change; Community, Culture, Globalisation
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Spyros Themelis

PhD Student, Educational Foundations and Policy Studies
Institute of Education, University of London

London, London, UK

PhD student. Thesis title: Education and Social Mobility'. Institute of Education,University of London; (MRes) Masters in Social and Educational Research, Institute of Education,University of London. Msc in Ethnicity and Multiculturalism, University of Bristol. Bsc in Education, Philosophy and Psychology, University of Ioannina, Greece.

Ref: L09P1587