Published on 19 Apr 2021

Why each man for himself is no longer the best way forward

The Straits Times, page A18

Governments, including Singapore's, need to address perceptions of unfairness among segments of their societies. One such unfairness is wealth inequality, and its relation to meritocracy. There is growing evidence that institutions like universities that are supposed to help people advance on the basis of merit are instead reproducing privilege. 

Singapore sociologist Teo You Yenn, an assoc prof at NTU, has studied how that dynamic plays out among low-income families here. She published her keen observations in a 2018 book, This Is What Inequality Looks Like. Many Singaporeans fail to comprehend that structural barriers, such as a lack of viable childcare options, rather than poor attitudes or a lack of effort, may make it difficult for lower-income parents to hold down jobs, she notes.

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Photo: Galen Crout on Unsplash