2020 Lecture

The Myth of Meritocracy

From satire to social inequality

In response to recent public health concerns about gatherings arising from novel coronavirus (COVID – 19), the 2020 Worldviews Lecture has been postponed until further notice.

To be notified when a new date for the event has been confirmed, please register here.

Jo Littler


Carl James


Rupa Banerjee


Wayne Lewchuk


Trish Hennessy


Learn more about the panelists »


The concept of meritocracy suggests that anyone can ascend the social and economic ladder if they work hard enough, regardless of their social position. This rather ambitious claim originated as a satirical take on social mobility in the 1950’s.

And yet meritocracy is now embedded at the heart of our economic, social, cultural, and academic institutions in a way that obscures the role meritocracy plays in social exclusion.

This year’s Worldviews lecture will attempt to make meritocracy satire again.

The evening will open with a talk by Professor Jo Littler of City, University of London and author of Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility. Following her talk, a dynamic panel of experts and academics will join the conversation, further exploring the ways merit creates barriers in higher education and the labour market. The panelists will also address the ways class, race, gender, and immigration status intersect with merit.

This year, the Worldviews Lecture asks:

How do merit-driven decisions exacerbate social exclusion on the basis of class, race, and gender? How does the superficial fairness of merit-based discourse effectively work to reproduce or disrupt existing relations of power? What role does meritocracy play in precarity and the neoliberal labour market? How do Canadian postsecondary institutions uphold the myth of meritocracy? What is the emotional and psychological impact of meritocracy? And how can we overcome the myth of meritocracy?

The event is free and open to the public but registration is required. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an engaging conversation, and will continue the discussion afterwards at a special reception courtesy of Goldblatt Partners.


About the Worldviews Lecture

The Worldviews Lecture is a spinoff of the popular Worldviews Conferences, which were organized by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, the Washington-based Inside Higher Ed, and the London-based University World News.

Held each year in Toronto, these lectures explore issues of concern in higher education, locally, and around the globe.

The Worldviews Lecture is intended to provide a lively forum to advance mutual understanding of the relationships, challenges, and potential of higher education and the media.

  • Ocufa
  • Academic Matters
  • University World News
  • Inside Higher Ed
  • Academia Group
  • University of Toronto
  • Goldblatt Partners