From the Meritocratic Illusion to the Notion of Social Equity in Working Class

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Is social equity still a substantive value for working class in our contemporary societies? Is social inequality observed by those who suffer its consequences? Which is the conception of social justice that prevails when evaluating their own situation? A meritocratic conception according to which the situation is exclusively attributed to individual responsibility? Or a distributive conception that presents personal situation as restricted by unequal conditions, rights and development possibilities among social classes? Diverse conceptions of social justice were empirically surveyed in an exploratory research on working class moral identity, in Argentina, in the last years (2010 -2015). The study offers valuable clues to analyze some of the preconditions of the electoral success of the new neoliberal governments in the region, even though they drive structural changes which affect the extension of rights previously achieved by working class. We have identified some of the factors that provide the acceptance and moral justification of current policies, despite they lead to a progressive worsening in workers´social situation. A meritocratic conception of social justice reinforces an atomized working class. It is an epistemological obstacle to observe the interrelation of actions in social order. Workers are made responsible for their low wages, the unemployed for their dismissals and the poor for their poverty. Either accussing workers of low productivity, inefficiency, corruption, etc., as individual faults needed to be sanctioned,or explaining welfare acquired in the past as an excessive or undeserved prize. It promotes an ideological normalization of class inequality and it offers utopian resolutions by deceptive means in an always imprecise future. The conceptualization of social equity is a result of a complex stage in human reflection on social order. It urgently demands democratic, autonomous and participatory cooperation in the production and distribution of material and symbolic resources socially generated.