Collaboration with Erick Bateman: Erick’s Book Club – The Meritocracy Trap

Hi Friends! I’m so excited to come to y’all today with an awesome book recommendation. For those who don’t know me, my name is Erick Bateman (he/him). I am a Class of 2020 grad from The University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a contemporary dance concentration. The bulk of my education, along with my technical training, has included discourse around the human experience, meaning how we perceive and experience events in our lives. This combined with current events, and the endless barrage of information we are constantly intaking, my reading list as of late has included books that center around broad topics that can be taken further into discussion and dissection.

An important disclaimer that I’ve learned to take on through my education is that human beings are messy and our experiences are nuanced. There will never be definitive answers that bring solace to everyone, but the more we aim to learn from multiple perspectives, we learn the difference between truth and fact, and that multiple things can be true at the same time.

On to the book!!!

The book I am recommending today is titled The Meritocracy Trap by Daniel Markovitz.

This book centers primarily on the illusion of merit in today’s Western World. Everyone has heard the phrase “strap yourself up by your bootstraps”. This book illustrates through examples of education, financialization, and job market opportunities how this phrase does not produce the same outcome for everyone. Author Daniel Markovitz, a professor at Yale, credits his ability to navigate that world thanks to being born into a situation that lacked precarity and cultivated opportunity. Our own abilities to create opportunity for ourselves is very much at the discretion of circumstance. The income of your parents, school district, and value of home all play a hand in determining your life outcome. While the initial goal of meritocracy was met; a dismantlement of aristocracy in which people simply inherited wealth, we now live in a hyper-productive version that requires large amounts of educational and financial investment in one’s life to determine quality, all absent the question of what a valuable life is, which is a relative question.

All in all, I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the conversations of work/life balance, life expectations, and economic opportunity. I would love to have a convo with you about it!

Lots of thoughts!


You can reach out to Erick on Instagram here or search @erickkbateman 

Notes from The Young Editorial:

To begin, I love this disclaimer that human beings are messy and our experiences are nuanced. That is the soul behind the blog and everything I write for. It’s the simplest yet most comprehensive way to describe the human experience.

I have not read this book, though it is on the way! The conversation around born circumstance and the ability to pave your way through life coming from those different circumstances is an important one. That is another reason for the blog, to help give you the tools to pull yourself up by those boot straps and get going!

Thank you Erick for this amazing book recommendation and your thoughts on it, I hope you all will read it with me to gain more perspective and participate in his discourse. I wish I could give more opinion on the subject but I am simply not educated enough, so let’s get to reading!

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