Political Meritocracy in Comparative Historical Perspective

Political Meritocracy in Comparative Historical Perspective

This project explores why the Western tradition of meritocracy failed to establish itself against its ideological rival, constitutional democracy, in the early modern period, and the prospects for reinvigorating meritocratic elements in Western politics today.

Project Title

Political Meritocracy in Comparative Historical Perspective

Project Summary

This project is a comparative study of the means used by various historical societies to improve the moral and intellectual quality of political elites via education, customs, culture, and institutions. Professor Bol and Professor Hankins will use the insights of modern Confucian political philosophy to illuminate the issues involved, while also supplying theorists with the fruits of historical research, particularly what means for improving moral and intellectual leadership have proven most successful in past societies.

Partner Affiliations in China

Fudan University
Peking University
Tsinghua University

Principal Investigators

  • P.B.

    Peter Bol

    Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

  • J.H.

    James Hankins

    Professor of History, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences