inequality and competition

Two interesting podcasts, the first is about St. Paul's School and the elite.  Interesting views on how the elite have embraced the meritocracy idea and have allowed more diversity within their small circle while the bulk of the population is trapped due to class status.  Shamus discusses how this creates patterns of blame (blaming the poor). Class, is of course, the elephant in the room we cannot discuss. From the site:
This week we talk with Shamus Khan about his new book Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School. One the one hand, elite social institutions—such as St. Paul’s—have opened up to women and minorities in recent decades, but on the other hand, inequality has increased and wealth is more concentrated now than since the 1920s. What explains this apparent contradiction between increasing openness yet rising inequality? Khan draws on his experiences as a student and then researcher at St. Paul’s to help answer this question.




The second podcast is Francesco Duina on Winning.  Competition, something Americans seems to embrace without question.  It is remarkable how parents feel comfortable with competition on all levels and in fact feel compelled to help their kids compete.  All of my kids were shocked and appalled the first time they played a board game and lost.  They didn't realize that playing involved that.  We would change the rules for more cooperative play but they eventually understood this value and adjusted.  I remember reading Tony Hillerman's novels on the Navajo practice of never winning overtly and even losing to maintain equality and social comfort. The social costs of winning are immense.
This episode, new Office Hours contributor David Phillippi interviews Francesco Duina about his book, Winning: An American Obsession. Topics include competition in sports, raising children, and comparing America’s culture of competition with Denmark. What are we trying to gain by being so competitive? And are we getting it? Listen in to find out.
Both are up at Office Hours which features conversations with top social scientists, available on The Society Pages blog.

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