Comparative Ethical Analysis of Competition in Academia: Academic Massification and Academic Elitism?

By Parhizgar, Kamal Dean | Competition Forum, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Comparative Ethical Analysis of Competition in Academia: Academic Massification and Academic Elitism?

Parhizgar, Kamal Dean, Competition Forum


This article is a comparative ethical analysis between academic massification and academic elitism. The research undertaken revealed that there are fundamental significant differences between academic justice and academic fairness. Specifically, with regard to the causal deontological and consequential utilitarian end results both models were generally concerned about the problems faced by families and communities concerning equal opportunities and equitable competitive opportunities for admitting and educating students in colleges and universities. Analysis of perceptual similarities and differences, however, revealed that more variable perceptions exist between academic massification and academic elitism systems. Although both set of models consistently placed greater emphasis on the issue of competitive meritocracy among students, academic massification showed more tendency to emphasize similarities to prevail justice and academic elitism emphasized more on cost-benefit analysis.

Keywords: Elitism, Massivism, Massification, Meritarian, Equalitarian, Equitabilitarian


The words justice, fairness, equality, and equity are frequently heard by all of us. They are parts of the claims in democratic nations. As we become more aware of multicultural differences, we may tend to doubt that words like justice refer to objective universally oriented values and that fairness is more oriented to the generosity of mind. Justice and fairness are essentially comparative. They are concerned with comparative treatments given to the members of a group when benefits and burdens are distributed, and when rules and the laws are administered, when members of a group cooperate or compete with each other.

There are at least three interpretations of justice, ranging from (1) meritarian (2) to equalitarian and (3) to equitablitarian. The meritarian view of justice is that the good things in life should be distributed in accordance with equality at the started point and be assessed at the end result. The competitive meritarian justice coins with those who work hard deserve or merit more than those who do not (Deutsch, 1989: 142). The second basic account of equitabilitarian justice to be considered, as the Marxist view is usually summed up in the expression, "from each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her needs." This system emphasizes on distributive justice rather than contributive justice. The third basic account is based upon the equalitarian view that underlies the values of many cultures in this world. Their position is life is based upon the theses of Social Darwinism; the survival of the fittest and the demise of the weakest and sickest. This is known as elitism.

Fairness is something we have all grown up hearing as praised. It is related to the equitability of opportunities, not equality of outcomes. Most of us, through our senses of humanity, accept it, but not all. Nevertheless, many of us may suspect what are just, fair, equal, and equitable treatments of self and others. French and Granrose (1995: 123) indicated: "...Commitment to some basic sense of fairness is deeply rooted in virtually all of us. This will be illustrated by a hypothetical conversation between a student and an ethical instructor by arguing about the nature of justice and fairness as follows:

STUDENT: Values are relative and one person's are as good as another's.

TEACHER: No, some peoples are better than others and deserve to be treated well.

STUDENT: No, values are relative, and no one can impose personal values on another.

TEACHER: Values are not relative, and if you do not agree then I will flunk you.

STUDENT: That would not be fair.

TEACHER: Are you trying to impose your view of what is fair on me?

STUDENT: I think I see your point.

This type of dialectic argument casts doubt on a glib relativism and suggests that beneath our occasional skepticism about the claims of morality lies what might be called a moral presupposition that has to do with fairness and not with justice.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Comparative Ethical Analysis of Competition in Academia: Academic Massification and Academic Elitism?


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?