Markets, merit and the dignity of labour

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In The Tyranny of Merit, Sandel recasts the discontent expressed in populism as a rejection of market morality and as an inarticulate plea for the restoration of civic virtue. He argues that a ‘market-based globalisation project’ has fostered meritocratic ideas which humiliate the victims of that project and undermine the dignity of labour. I question Sandel’s claim that meritocracy is a market value and the dignity of labour is not. I argue that his account of a moral alternative to normal market institutions – an economy in which individuals’ rewards are somehow aligned with their true merits – is deeply incoherent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323–338
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Review of Economics
Issue number3
Early online date8 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022


  • merit
  • meritocracy
  • dignity of labour
  • contributive justice
  • Meritocracy
  • Merit
  • Dignity of labour
  • Contributive justice

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