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Social Evolution, Economic Development and Culture

Social Evolution, Economic Development and Culture

What it Means to Take Japan Seriously

Ronald Dore and D. Hugh Whittaker

Social Evolution, Economic Development and Culture brings together Ronald Dore’s key writings for the first time, making his work accessible across a wide range of social science disciplines. It produces a distinctive perspective with four interlinking themes – technology-driven social evolution, late development, culture and polemics. These are highly topical in the current context of rapid technological innovation and socio-economic change, globalization and accompanying policy choices.

Chapter 22: The diploma disease: some modest proposals*

Ronald Dore and D. Hugh Whittaker

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, asian economics, development studies, asian development, economics and finance, asian economics, evolutionary economics


Clearly, to deschool is to throw the baby out with the bath water, for there genuinely is an educational baby worth preserving and nurturing in the institution called school. The cure for the problems which beset developing country school systems must be sought in less drastic measures - but measures perhaps only a little less drastic. One element lies at the heart of nearly all the problems discussed in this book: the diploma disease. … It should, surely, be there that one should look for the possibilities of reform. Somehow, to be sure, society has to find ways of deciding who does what job, and they have to be the ways which (a) are considered by the people of that society just and acceptable ways of awarding the privileges and amenities that go with different jobs, and (b) ensure that the productive efficiency of society is not too much impaired by having too many round pegs in square holes - what may be referred to as the equity requirement and the efficiency requirement. The efficiency requirement, of course, has two parts: choosing pegs from wood of the right grain in the first place, and shaping them to a proper roundness in the second; the selection and the training aspects respectively. The solution which most societies have adopted throughout most of human history - hereditary succession - is not likely to find acceptance anywhere today; it solves the efficiency problem only in societies with a relatively simple and non-progressive technology where the...

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