The idea of meritocracy is related to the distribution of goods and rewards based on individual talent and effort, being a principle that legitimizes the unequal distribution of resources in modern societies. Despite the constant references to meritocracy in inequality and stratification research, there are still few conceptual and empirical attempts to understand to what extent individuals perceive and prefer meritocracy, as well as their consequences. The present research proposes a conceptual and empirical framework for studying meritocratic perceptions and preferences, which is then related with economic inequality variables. Using data from the Chilean survey “Social justice and citizenship participation”, the analyses suggest that meritocratic perceptions and preferences are different constructs and that those perceiving an adequate functioning of meritocracy also perceive less economic inequality.
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