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Session Overview
MD06: Author Meets Critics: Jo Littler’s book “Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Mythos of Mobility”
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
12:45pm - 1:45pm

Session Chair: Ruth MCDONALD, University of Manchester
Location: PB.2.5
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 2.

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Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Mythos of Mobility

Jo Littler

City, University of London, UK, United Kingdom

Meritocracy today involves the idea that whatever your social position at birth, society ought to offer enough opportunity and mobility for 'talent' to combine with 'effort' in order to 'rise to the top'. This idea is one of the prevalent social and cultural tropes of our time, as palpable in the speeches of politicians as in popular culture. In this book Jo Littler argues that meritocracy is the key cultural means of legitimation for contemporary neoliberal culture -- and that whilst it promises opportunity, it in fact creates new forms of social division. In this session 2 speakers will engage in discussion about the book with Jo the author.


JO LITTLER is a Reader in the Centre for Culture and Creative Industries in the Department of Sociology at City, University of London, UK. She works on cultural politics and her research includes work on meritocracy, consumer culture, heritage and celebrity. She is the author of Radical Consumption? Shopping for change in contemporary culture (2008) and is co-editor of The Politics of Heritage: the legacies of ‘race’ (2005, with Roshi Naidoo) and Cultural Studies and Anti-Consumerism (2011, with Sam Binkley). She is part of the editorial collective of Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture and an editor of the European Journal of Cultural Studies. Her new book Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility is being published by Routledge in August 2017.

. Prof Ricca Edmondson taught philosophy at universities in Berlin, also working as a translator, before doing post-doctoral research on the sociology of organisations at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development there.  She is a member of the School of Political Science and Sociology at National University of Ireland, Galway, Co-Chair of the Social Sciences Research Centre, and founder of the Galway Wisdom Project. She is a former member of the ESA Executive Committee and an editor of the ESA's journal, The European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology. Since 1999 she has been a member of the Board of Research Network 1 (Ageing). 
Her research centres on four interconnected, interdisciplinary areas: the sociality of reasoning and rhetorical argumentation; understanding phenomena connected with ‘wisdom’, and developing new techniques for doing so; issues connected with the life course and life-course meaning; and interculturality, translation and qualitative methods in the social and political sciences.

MARIANNA FOTAKI is Professor of Business Ethics at Warwick Business School. She holds degrees in medicine, health economics, and a PhD in public policy from London School of Economics and Political Science. Before joining academia in 2003 she worked as a medical doctor in Greece, China, and the UK, as a volunteer and manager for humanitarian organizations Médecins du Monde and Médecins sans Frontiers in Iraq and Albania, and as the EU senior resident adviser to governments in transition (in Russia, Georgia and Armenia). Marianna is at present a Senior Editor for Organization Studies, and co-directs pro bono an online think tank Centre for Health and the Public Interest a charity that aims to disseminate research informing the public and policy makers ( Marianna is a Network Fellow at the Edmond J Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University in 2014-2015.

RUTH MCDONALD is Professor of Health Science Research and Policy at the University of Manchester. Her research concerns health professionals and change in health sector organisations. She is a member of the ESA executive committee and former Chair of RN19 (Sociology of Professions Research Network).

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