Book launch of ‘The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World’ by Adrian Wooldridge

  • Monday, 7 June, 2021
    18:00 - 19:00


Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Dame Patricia Hodgson
Former Chair of Ofcom, former Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge

Professor Daniel Markovits
Guido Calabresi Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Professor Steven Pinker
Johnstone Family Professor, Harvard University


Adrian Wooldridge
Bagehot columnist, The Economist, and author of The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World


About the book

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.