What legitimacy for scholastic meritocracy and its way in France ?
While sociology of education has worked to demonstrate that schooling (re)produces social inequalities, few empirical studies have raised the question of whether or not schooling legitimates the inequalities it, i.e., by inculcating in pupils both the principle of merit and the legitimacy of scholastic meritocracy. This question, raised instead by social psychologists, who have been deeply implicated in this area of study, is nonetheless of crucial importance. The empirical study presented here, which combines a survey of students in their first year of higher education and a series of interviews with adults, reveals that the principle of scholastic meritocracy has not been thoroughly internalized. People criticize that principle on two points : degree to which educational degree earned reflects merit, and how legitimate it is to identify scholastic merit with professional merit. The study also attests that the influence exerted on this judgment by respondent’s education is no more than moderate, precisely because it is contradictory : education received both strengthens belief in the legitimacy of scholastic meritocracy and provide means of perceiving its limitations.