Coined by sociologist Robert Merton, the Matthew Effect derives its name from a verse in the New Testament (Matthew 25:29) which reads, “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath,” and roughly translates to, “Those who are successful are most likely to be given the special opportunities that lead to further success, and those who aren’t successful are most likely to be deprived of them.”

Wikipedia handle the term here.

David Didau presents an intuitive argument that having access to more culturally rich knowledge can spiral into advantage:

  • more knowledge potentially gets you into a better class at school, which pushes cognitive development compared to a weaker class
  • more cognitive development plays a part in determining the type of people you hang out with
  • those associations with people of equal or higher levels of cognitive development push and strengthen further cognitive development
  • higher cognitive capability opens access to cognitively demanding jobs, which are normally higher paid
  • intellectual levels are maintained via environmental contexts and demands

Failure to address the effect will clearly have large ramifications.

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger, and follow this blog for more English teaching resources and discussions.

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