Achievement Principle

The achievement principle says that in capitalist societies, people get rewards based on their hard work and qualifications, not on particularism.
Achievement Principle Sociology Definition


The achievement principle says that in capitalist societies, people get rewards based on their hard work and qualifications, not on particularism.

Claus Offe and Achievement principle

It was developed by Claus Offe and is considered a critical ideological tenet of modern society. Offe asserted that the multiskilled character of modern societies where there are so many diverse talents that the idea of a hierarchy of skill loses all meaning. It means that the achievement principle cannot be put into reality.

The ‘Leistungsprinzip’ in educational science, or the capitalist achievement principle, was a topic of discussion in the critical pedagogy of the 1960s and 1970s.

According to Claus Offe, a capitalist society displays an illusion of fairness, in which performance is a benchmark used to compare the accomplishments of all community members and in which salaries are acceptable measures of that achievement.

According to Offe, the capitalist accomplishment principle conceals an oppressive and unreasonable disparity. Because it indicates that a person’s wealth, professional rank, and social standing all depend entirely on their accomplishments and efforts, the achievement principle is unfair. Due to this, all roles and power structures in a capitalist society are valid and purely based on the contributions of people. This principle also gives the impression that a person’s income correlates with their success in achievements and that the growth of their unique skills and characteristics is accurately quantified when done so.

According to Offe and other critical theorists, the capitalist achievement principle cannot fulfill its false promise of equality because it subtly works to thwart the fulfillment of equal possibilities. Additionally, the requirements of the accomplishment principle disguise the fact that accomplishment and societal growth depend on social cooperation and organizational partnerships in addition to individual achievements. Finally, the notion that a person’s income serves as a clear indicator of their talents seems unwarranted in light of the ambiguous relationship between income and skills brought about by the emergence of new technologies and industries, the expansion and diversification of the working world, and the global economy.

Theorists of critical pedagogy

Theorists of critical pedagogy concur with Offe’s conclusion that the capitalist achievement principle is unfair and upholds unequal wealth distribution to protect certain groups’ certain privileges. Additionally, they contend that the concept of achievement has a significant impact on education and parenting and serves as a tool for nurturing and indoctrinating the disparities of a capitalist society.

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