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Media, Education and Reinforcing the American Dream

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Analyze current policies of the media and education institutions and assess their impact on the ideal of meritocracy. How might these two institutions prevent groups of Americans from achieving Horatio Alger-style success?

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How do media and educational institutions ensure that those at the top are revered as the best and brightest while ensuring that those underneath them are identified as undeserving of those positions? Media and educational institutions are necessary for capitalism to thrive. Capitalism functions better when people believe that those in power are deserving ( ie. meritocracy) rather than a system of class oppression.

Media and education support the ideology of a meritocracy by legitimizing those in power as deserving through educational certification and constant representation in positions of power. Although media and educational institutions support the idea of meritocracy by over representing a portion of the population in positions of power- most notably- white, male or domestically born- they also perpetuate the idea that the failure to achieve the American Dream can be attributed to individual shortcomings.

In the Horatio-Alger example, the characters in his novels in the mid to late 1800's were used to communicate the idea that the American Dream could be achieved by anyone if they worked hard enough or possessed the right qualities. It is a good media example of meritocracy. Today, movies, the internet, magazines and television are more popular forms.

As a contemporary example, so called " reality ...

Solution Summary

This solution explores the idea of meritocracy. It examines how media and education institutionally promote the ideology of meritocracy. Then, how they prevent certain groups from accessing success or power is analyzed. It also compares and contrasts media and educational institutions- and how they serve to legitimize power. meritocracy is discussed alongside class, gender and race. Specific examples of media such as television shows are provided. Three peer reviewed journal articles and one book provided as a reference.