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Fellow Seminar: Rethinking Meritocracy – Freedom, Wellbeing and the Common Good

18 May 2023 @ 16:30 - 18:00

Maria Dimova-Cookson (Re-Link Bulgarian-Swiss Fellowships, April – June ’23) will present her research on:

Rethinking Meritocracy – Freedom, Well-being and the Common Good

on 18 May, 2023 (Thursday) at 16:30 h.

Moderated by Federico Brusadelli.


In recent years meritocracy – the social arrangement which rewards the talented and the hard working – has attracted a great deal of critique and, in response to them, some defences. The concerns surrounding meritocracy became more pronounced following the aftermath of Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump as a president in the US in 2016. The two events sent shockwaves to the relatively well-off middle-class constituents of Western democracies, who had previously perceived themselves as representative of the broader political consensus. The emergence of a new 21st-century populism revealed a troubling divide between a liberal, cosmopolitan, well-educated elite and those who were comparatively less educated, and who opposed high levels of immigration while perceiving limited benefits from globalization. The problem with meritocracy lies in the fact that, as a result of these new social divisions, the values of education and liberal democracy have come under fierce attack.

In this analysis, I will examine the grounds on which meritocracy has been denounced, as well as the ways in which it has been defended. Furthermore, I will present my own defence of merit as a principle of justice by highlighting the significant connection between merit and freedom, understood as the capacity to improve one’s own well-being. I will utilise Berlin’s ideas of negative, positive and romantic freedoms in order to throw light on how merit is experienced by the key social groups of the meritocratic landscape.


18 May 2023
16:30 - 18:00


Centre for Advanced Study Sofia


Centre for Advanced Study Sofia
7B Stefan Karadzha St, entr. 3
Sofia,‎ ‎1000‎ ‎Bulgaria
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