Saying Meritocracy and Doing Privilege

Shamus Khan, Colin Jerolmack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


This article describes the relationship between saying and doing. It argues that focusing on the discrepancy between participants' accounts and their actions is one of the greatest analytical strengths of ethnography. We make this case by drawing upon an ethnography of an elite boarding school. We also reflect on the way that two ethnographers worked together to better understand the social significance of accounts that are incongruent with situated behavior. We conclude by arguing that qualitative researchers must be more sensitive to the different kinds of claims that can be made with interview versus observational data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-19
Number of pages11
JournalSociological Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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