The Competition and Competitiveness Project is a research project in the School of Philosophy & Art History funded by a Research Leadership Award from the Leverhulme Trust. It started in October 2020 and will run for four years.
The aim of the project is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the different forms of competition and competitiveness and the role they play in a wide range of social practices and institutions, for example, markets, the arts, sciences, and sports.
The project takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on historical sources, social scientific insights and philosophical analysis. The Principal Investigator, Professor Timo Jütten, leads a research team, consisting of three Senior Research Officers, a PhD student (from October 2021), and a project administrator.
Competition and competitiveness are poorly understood but rarely submitted to detailed analysis. This research will reshape the disciplinary landscape of (political) philosophy, making a more realistic conception of human nature and social processes the basis of its normative arguments and offering a nuanced view of when competition is appropriate.
One stream of our research considers conceptual questions about competition and competitiveness. Research questions include:
A society is meritocraticto the extent that access to important goods is allocated according to merit. Meritocracy is competitive, because the goods that it allocates are scarceand, often, positional. For example, in a meritocratic society, individuals compete for access to and success in selective education and desirable and well-paid jobs, and the honours and material rewards that come with that success.
A number of recent studies have pointed to problems of meritocratic societies (e.g., Robert H. Frank’s Success and Luck, Jo Littler’s Against Meritocracy, Daniel Markovits’ The Meritocracy Trap, and Michael Sandel’s The Tyranny of Merit).
One stream of our current research looks specifically at thecompetitivecharacter of meritocracyand a number of related concepts, such as equality of opportunity, fairness and luck. Research questions include:
Principal InvestigatorSchool of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex
Senior Research OfficerSchool of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex