Meritocracy and Elitism in a Global City: Ideological Shifts in Singapore

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Abstract

The concept of meritocracy is unstable as its constituent ideas are potentially contradictory. The egalitarian aspects of meritocracy, for example, can come into conflict with its focus on talent allocation, competition, and reward. In practice, meritocracy is often transformed into an ideology of inequality and elitism. In Singapore, meritocracy has been the main ideological resource for justifying authoritarian government and its pro-capitalist orientations. Through competitive scholarships, stringent selection criteria for party candidacy, and high ministerial salaries, the ruling People's Action Party has been able to co-opt talent to form a “technocratic” government for an “administrative state.” However, as Singapore becomes more embedded in the processes of globalization, it will experience new forms of national crisis, alternative worldviews through global communications technology, and a widening income gap, all of which will force its ideology of meritocracy to unravel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-27
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

User-Defined Keywords

  • Elitism
  • Global city
  • Ideology
  • Meritocracy
  • Singapore

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