Many societies worldwide claim to be meritocracies – that is, that their societies exclusively distribute resources on the basis of merit. The term "meritocracy" was coined by Michael Young in his 1958 dystopian essay " The Rise of the Meritocracy " to demonstrate the social dysfunctions that he anticipated arising in societies where the elites believe that they are successful entirely on the basis of merit, so the adoption of this term into English sans negative connotations is ironic;  Young was concerned that the Tripartite System of education being practiced in the United Kingdom at the time he wrote the essay considered merit to be "intelligence-plus-effort, its possessors. identified at an early age and selected for appropriate intensive education” and that the "obsession with quantification, test-scoring, and qualifications” it supported would create an educated middle-class elite at the expense of the education of the working class, inevitably resulting in injustice and – eventually – revolution.  A modern representation of the sort of “meritocracy” Young feared may be seen in the series 3%.
Although merit matters to some degree in many societies, research shows that the distribution of resources in societies often follows hierarchical social categorizations of persons to a degree too significant to warrant calling these societies “meritocratic”, since even exceptional intelligence, talent, or other forms of merit may not be compensatory for the social disadvantages people face. In many cases, social inequality is linked to racial inequality , ethnic inequality , and gender inequality , as well as other social statuses and these forms can be related to corruption.