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Postponed because of Covid-19: Daniel Markovits on the Meritocracy Trap
March 20 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
“The Meritocracy Trap”
Daniel Markovits is Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Private Law at Yale University. He works in the philosophical foundations of private law, moral and political philosophy, and behavioral economics.
Meritocracy — the idea that a person’s hard work and abilities determine one’s rewards in society — sits at the very center of the American ideal. But should it? Not according to Daniel Markovits, who argues, in The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite (Penguin Press), that meritocracy is a dangerous failure.
In a time of profound political polarization, the concept of meritocracy continues to be idealized by both sides of the political spectrum. It promises equality and opportunity by opening elite status to everyone based on their talents and ambitions. But, Markovits argues, meritocracy does not operate as we think it does. In his book, Markovits explains how rising inequality, class conflict, discrimination, and social and political dysfunction are all the end product of our current beliefs about meritocracy.
But reforming the current system will not come easily or quickly, Markovits acknowledges:
“The meritocracy trap was constructed over generations and will take generations to dismantle,” he writes. Such changes, if enacted together and working over time, could help shore up the middle class and reduce societal divisions. “A more equal social and economic order would therefore make everyone — both the rich and the rest — better off,” Markovits says.