University Textbooks Communication & Journalism Books

Against Meritocracy: Culture, power and myths of mobility

Meritocracy today involves the idea that whatever your social position at birth, society ought to offer enough opportunity and mobility for ‘talent’ to combine with ‘effort’ in order to ‘rise to the top’. This idea is one of the most prevalent social and cultural tropes of our time, as palpable in the speeches of politicians as in popular culture. In this book Jo Littler argues that meritocracy is the key cultural means of legitimation for contemporary neoliberal culture – and that whilst it promises opportunity, it in fact creates new forms of social division.Against Meritocracy is split into two parts. Part I explores the genealogies of meritocracy within social theory, political discourse and working cultures. It traces the dramatic U-turn in meritocracy’s meaning, from socialist slur to a contemporary ideal of how a society should be organised. Part II uses a series of case studies to analyse the cultural pull of popular ‘parables of progress’, from reality TV to the super-rich and celebrity CEOs, from social media controversies to the rise of the ‘mumpreneur’. Paying special attention to the role of gender, ‘race’ and class, this book provides new conceptualisations of the meaning of meritocracy in contemporary culture and society.

Bread and Circuses: Theories of Mass Culture As Social Decay

Lively and well written, Bread and Circuses analyzes theories that have treated mass culture as either a symptom or a cause of social decadence. Discussing many of the most influential and representative theories of mass culture, it ranges widely from Greek and Roman origins, through Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Ortega y Gasset, T. S. Eliot, and the theorists of the Frankfurt Institute, down to Marshall McLuhan and Daniel Bell, Brantlinger considers the many versions of negative classicism and shows how the belief in the historical inevitability of social decay—a belief today perpetuated by the mass media themselves—has become the dominant view of mass culture in our time. While not defending mass culture in its present form, Brantlinger argues that the view of culture implicit in negative classicism obscures the question of how the media can best be used to help achieve freedom and enlightenment on a truly democratic basis.

Emotion and Proactivity at Work: Prospects and Dialogues

EPDF and EPUB available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence. Individuals’ behaviours at work are known to be shaped by cold, or cognitive-motivational, processes as well as hot, or affect-motivational, processes. To date, employee proactivity research has mainly focused on the ‘cold’ side. But emotion has been proposed to ‘energize’ employees’ proactivity, especially in interdependent and uncertain work environments. In this pioneering work, expert scholars offer new thinking on the process by examining how emotion can drive employees’ proactivity in the workplace and how, in turn, that proactivity can shape one’s emotional experiences.