In this article, Stanley Aronowitz argues that "American" ideology contains two elements. First, the United States is believed to confer equality of opportunity on each citizen. Second, unlike other advanced industrial nations, the United States is considered an "open society" that allows and promotes social mobility. In this paradigm, racial minorities and women have the same chances to escape the ranks of the working poor as White men. Aronowitz uses a class-based analysis nested within ethnicity to expose the fallacy of this ideology. Since higher education is most often pointed to as a source of social mobility, Aronowitz focuses his argument on the meritocratic norms that are replacing democratic norms within higher education, and on the devolution of educational opportunity for the poor, working class, and racial minorities.

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