David Civil


David Civil is an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded PhD student based in the Department of History at the University of Nottingham. His research explores the origins, development and trajectory of the concept meritocracy in post-war Britain. By employing meritocracy as a lens through which to view Britain’s changing intellectual politics David’s PhD touches on fundamental issues which still dominate contemporary Britain such as the welfare state, education reform and economic efficiency.

Prior to starting his PhD, David’s Masters research at the University of Warwick explored the origins of the term meritocracy and the political thought of the neologism’s creator, British sociologist Michael Young. It analysed how the themes embodied in Young’s 1958 dystopian novel The Rise of the Meritocracy were a product of his often fraught relationship with the post-war Labour Party. This research was nominated for the Royal Historical Society’s Rees Davis Graduate Prize and can be read about here: https://discoversociety.org/2018/10/02/the-birth-of-meritocracy-michael-young-the-rise-of-the-meritocracy-and-post-war-british-politics/

In September 2018 David co-organised Meritocracy in Perspective, a debate to commemorate sixty-years since the publication of The Rise of the Meritocracy. The debate featured Young Foundation CEO Helen Goulden, Spectator Associate Editor Toby Young, Former Downing Street Joint Chief of Staff Nick Timothy and CLASS Director and prospective Labour Party MP Faiza Shaheen.  The proceedings of this event are expected to be published in a forthcoming special issue of the Political Quarterly