It is often argued that American society is a meritocracy in which every individual has an equal opportunity to succeed. From this perspective, those individuals who have talent and work hard end up in higher social classes; those individuals without much talent and who don’t work hard end up in the lower social classes. Each generation has a new chance to succeed, regardless of how well its parents did. The merit of individuals, then, would explain why society is unequal. Using the sociological arguments, data, and evidence we have studied so far this semester (not your personal opinions or experience), make an argument as to whether–or to what extent–our society is, indeed, such a meritocracy. What would be the position of Marxists and functionalists on this issue? You must address all of these issues in order to get full credit for the essay. You must provide evidence in the form of data and citations from the course material to substantiate your points. Do not wander off into a discussion of your own personal opinions and experiences. You must not substitute an exploration of your own views for an engagement with the material we are studying. Students who do so will receive zero credit for this part of their essay.
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