Our Book of the Month choice for January

The SSL ‘Book of the Month’ feature highlights a book in our collection that has been chosen by one of our Subject Consultants. This may be a recent addition to our stock or an existing item that we would like to share with you.

Image of John Southall (Bodleian Data Librarian and Subject Consultant for Economics and Sociology) sat in the SSL Data Area


January’s book of the month was selected by John Southall, Bodleian Data Librarian and Subject Consultant for Economics and Sociology.


Front cover of our Book of the Month. A star appears above the words 'The Meritocracy Trap' 'Daniel Markovits' under are the words 'A bold, brave critique - Michael Sandel' A rosette is overlapping the book and says 'SSL Book of the Month' on it.



The Meritocracy Trap

Daniel Markovits

Allen Lane, 2019

Shelfmark: HT684.MAR 2019

Also available as an eBook via SOLO.


Why was it chosen?

It was chosen because of the way it discusses fundamental concerns of Sociology such as social mobility and inequality.

Book Overview

It is an axiom of modern life that meritocracy promises to provide opportunity to all. The idea that reward should follow ability and effort is so entrenched in our attitudes that, even when society divides itself in other ways, all sides can be heard repeating meritocratic notions. Meritocracy cuts to the heart of who we think we are.

However, Markovits argues, meritocracy has become exactly what it was conceived to resist: a mechanism for the concentration and dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Upward mobility has become a fantasy, and the middle classes are now more likely to sink into the working poor than to rise into the professional elite. At the same time, meritocracy ensnares even those who manage to claw their way to the top, requiring them to work with crushing intensity, exploiting their expensive educations in order to extract a return.


Markovits shows the tenacity of meritocracy’s narrative pull and how easy it is to get entangled in its logic.” Phil Bell, LSE Review of Books

 This book flips your world upside down. Daniel Markovits argues that meritocracy isn’t a virtuous, efficient system that rewards the best and brightest. Instead it rewards middle-class families who can afford huge investments in their children’s education.” The Times

How can I access it?

This title is available in hard copy at the SSL at shelfmark HT684.MAR 2019 to consult in the library. It is also available on SOLO for Oxford University staff and students to access remotely using their SSO.

Image of an open book with the pages curled to form a love heartWhat would your SSL Book of the Month be? Do you have a favourite book in our collection? If so, we would love to know what it is. Add a comment below or email us.

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