This book engages in an admirable attempt to understand an impressive range of important American historical trends and events through the lens of an idea. Joseph F, Kett begins by describing the uneasy existence of widely acknowledged “Men of Merit” within a revolutionary era inspired by ideas of equal rights and popular sovereignty/consent. These revolutionary leaders and American Founders understood merit as an inherent personal quality evidenced externally by public achievements and recognition, which Kett terms “essential merit.” The nineteenth century witnessed the gradual transformation of prevailing understandings of merit from the “essential” to the “institutional”; from merit as an inherent personal quality evidenced by public recognition to merit as a “presumption” certified by testing or institutional affiliation (p. 13). This transition leads Kett into an extensive treatment of educational history and the history of standardized testing, a treatment which ends up occupying the majority of his book. The book concludes with a provocative and thoughtful assessment of the status of the idea of merit—specifically, its “crisis”—since the 1960s.
To continue reading, see options above.
Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.
Revisiting the New Deal
Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilsonview additional issues
Articles | Book reviews
PRESIDENTIAL SELECTION AND DEMOCRACY
The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.
With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.