Can We Depend on Merit? - The Centre for Independent Studies
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Can We Depend on Merit?

Peter Kurti, Director of the Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society program at the CIS, sits down with two distinguished CIS Adjunct Scholars, Professor Steven Schwartz and Dr Gary Johns, as they consider the interaction of meritocracy and equality of opportunity.

Meritocracy sounds like a good thing. It purports to promote opportunity by distributing social and economic rewards based on talent and ability rather than inherited status. In theory, it ought to work: a person ought to be able to succeed simply based on their skills and abilities. However, is it possible that meritocracy entrenches privilege and is an obstacle to equality of opportunity?

In Australia, the meritocratic hope that wealth and status are no bar to those who do not belong to the elite yet aspire to success appears to be strong. But, what if the flaws in our meritocratic system deny equal opportunities? Does meritocracy threaten to blight Australia’s future? Do we really afford a fair go to all?