The national drive for education imposes new standards for evaluation of self and others; creates new situations of competition, uncertainty and conflict; and gives a new shape to the life course of men and women. Most of the costs stem from the occupational prestige hierarchy for which schooling prepares and qualifies its pupils. This hierarchy of occupations graded in earnings and social respect, tends to replace the status systems of agrarian societies and impose a single uniform standard of socio-economic evaluation based on the superiority of professionals and managers over clerks and the superiority of clerks over manual workers. In European history, the rise of this occupational hierarchy was considered democratizing, as a merit system base on individual skill that replaced a feudal system based on hereditary status. In partly mobilized societies, it may work rather differently, as when the third world farmer discovers he is a peasant or a skilled craftsman discovers he is an illiterate manual worker. The discovery that one is at the bottom of the hierarchy can come as a rude shock. This is mitigated in the partly mobilized society by the existence of agrarian communities with their alternative values and social supports. In the fully mobilized societies of the industrialized world, alternatives are no longer available and the costs are less avoidable and more sharply felt. The sense of relative deprivation is keenest when everyone who goes to school is led to believe he or she has a chance to get to the top, only to find that competitive examinations eliminate the majority. Mass education awards certificates of failure to the great majority of people. In societies where alternative social identities are not available life chances are few and most citizens are relegated to minimally significant roles.