08. Recognition and the ideology of merit

Heidi Elmgren


This paper discusses pathological forms that the ideal of merit takes in ideological uses of meritocratic ideas. According to the French philosopher Dominique Girardot (2011) the possibility of our genuinely recognizing one another is impaired by the ideology of merit: this new ideology standardizes recognition and forces competition, thus creating hierarchies and what Axel Honneth calls social pathologies. The ideology also threatens the category of action in Hannah Arendt’s (1958) sense. The paper elucidates Girardot’s stance and sketches a comparison between Honneth’s and Girardot’s views on recognition. Despite the explicit connection to Honneth’s theory, Girardot actually creates an Arendtian theory of recognition. It is against the background of that theory that the pathological forms of contemporary meritocracy best come to light.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20919/sspt.25.2015.32


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