Meritocracy: the idea that people should be advanced according to their talents rather than their status at birth. For much of history this was a revolutionary thought, but by the end of the twentieth century it had become the world's ruling ideology. How did this happen, and why is meritocracy now under attack from both right and left?
Join us for this talk by Adrian Wooldridge about his latest book, in which he traces the history of meritocracy forged by the politicians and officials who introduced the revolutionary principle of open competition, the psychologists who devised methods for measuring natural mental abilities and the educationalists who built ladders of educational opportunity. He looks outside western cultures and shows what transformative effects it has had everywhere it has been adopted, especially once women were brought into the meritocractic system. Wooldridge also shows how meritocracy has now become corrupted and argues that the recent stalling of social mobility is the result of failure to complete the meritocratic revolution. Rather than abandoning meritocracy, he says, we should call for its renewal.
You can order the book, The Aristocracy of Talent: how meritocracy made the modern world, (UK delivery only) from our official LSE Events independent book shop, Pages of Hackney.
Meet our speaker and chair
Adrian Wooldridge (@adwooldridge) is the Economist's political editor and author of its Bagehot column. He has also worked as the Economist's American bureau chief and author of the Lexington column, and management editor and author of the Schumpeter column. He earned a doctorate in history from Oxford University, where he was a Fellow of All Souls College. He is the author of ten previous books, including Capitalism in America co-written with Alan Greenspan and seven co-written with John Micklethwait.
Andrés Velasco (@AndresVelasco) is Professor of Public Policy and Dean of the School of Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
More about this event
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This event forms part of LSE’s Shaping the Post-COVID World initiative, a series imagining what the world could look like after the crisis, and how we get there.
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Podcast & Video
A podcast of this event is available to download from The Aristocracy of Talent: how meritocracy made the modern world.
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