Lay politics lies at the heart of democracy. Every adult citizen has the constitutional right to run for office. Contemporary political practices are diametrically opposed to this constitutional ideal. University graduates have come to dominate all relevant political institutions. This rise of a political meritocracy is part of larger trend. In the information society, educational background is a very significant social marker. Like class, or religion, educational background is an important source of social and political divides. This chapter introduces the central argument and what we mean by diploma democracy and the rise of political meritocracy. A diploma democracy is a democracy which is dominated by the citizens with the highest formal educational qualifications. In less academic terms: a diploma democracy is ruled by the citizens with the highest degrees.
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