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The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy…
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The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World (edició 2021)

de Adrian Wooldridge (Autore)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
1033269,357 (3.4)1
The surprising history of an inspiring and sometimes dangerous idea 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? Adrian Wooldridge 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.… (més)
Membre:gbsallery
Títol:The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World
Autors:Adrian Wooldridge (Autore)
Informació:Allen Lane (2021), 496 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:***1/2
Etiquetes:Cap

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The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World de Adrian Wooldridge

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Thoroughly researched but ultimately lacking in message; the conclusions do not seem to be supported by the excellent historical analysis which precedes them. Provides a good background in the history of meritocratic ideas, and the ways in which they have ebbed and flowed over time. ( )
  gbsallery | Jan 18, 2023 |
This book demonstrates how selection by merit stands opposed to selection by family ties, status and wealth on many fronts. I particularly liked the first historical chapters where the author explains how political power and wealth was distributed in completely non-meritocratic societies. It was also quite interesting to read about the rise of meritocratic thinking in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and earlier in China. It is hard to diagree with the author's assertion that meritocracy has been a key component in the development of modern societies.

I did not find the chapters about meritocracy after World War II nearly as interesting. The author devotes a lot of space on how meritocratic or non-meritocratic American universities and global consulting companies are, and Brexit of course has to be dragged into the story as well. The author cites too many statistics and the narrative loses its focus as it jumps from one theme to another. By the end I wished the book would have been 100 pages shorter. It's understandable that he focuses on British and American stories as these are the societies he knows best (although Singapore and China are also briefly discussed), but he fails to formulate any kind of general perspective on modern meritocratic or anti-meritocratic tendencies.

In the final chapters the author rightly argues that meritocracy must be defended to be preserved. But his preferred methods for doing so are rooted firmly in his British-American vantage point: school admission by IQ testing, free university education in exchange for a few years of government service, greater appreciation for social workers and vocational training. This seems like meaningless tinkering. Scandinavian societies offer a much better example of what true meritocracy looks like: progressive taxation which pays for good schools everywhere, university admission only through exams, university students getting paid instead of having to pay, strong unions looking out for worker's rights, a political system where money buys nothing and a well-paid state bureaucracy staffed with incorruptible employees. Simple as that.
  thcson | Apr 8, 2022 |
A beautifully written history of the modern world of the last five hundred years as filtered through the lens of meritocracy as a way of organising society. Wooldridge writes with much more joie de vivre and wit than stolid academic writers usually do, which makes sense considering that his day job is that of journalist.

A very valuable companion volume to Daniel Markovits' 2019 book The Meritocracy Trap. Wooldridge is championing meritocracy and Markovits is criticising it - at least on the face of it. But a closer reading shows that both authors are keen critics of the plutocratic perversions of what is sometimes touted as 'meritocracy' in today's America and Britain. In this book Woolridge gives a better account of the idea of meritocracy through history that I've seen anywhere: from ancient Greece with Plato's Republic of philosopher kings ruling society, the Jewish culture of the book, Chinese examination-based cultural history, and British exponents of the idea in the nineteenth century, and onwards.

Obviously Wooldridge frequently shows his sympathies for the idea that we should culturally celebrate brains rather than dollars - I happen to agree with him. (Although we should also celebrate those who have expertise working with their hands and those in the caring professions, as David Goodhart has argued recently.)

A very valuable book to understand the modern world, and that's pretty high praise; but it is also an enjoyable reading experience.
  Tom.Wilson | Oct 15, 2021 |
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The surprising history of an inspiring and sometimes dangerous idea 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? Adrian Wooldridge 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.

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