Abstract

Abstract:

The authors outline how multiple dimensions—historical and contemporary; global and local; political, economic, social, and cultural—inform an understanding of the super-rich. Recent super-rich scholarship is reviewed with regard to three themes: discourses and representations; mechanisms and structures; experiences and identities. The empirical and conceptual insights of the contents are then highlighted, with regard to the significance of discourses of legitimacy, namely, those of meritocracy, civility, and luxury; the intersections of race and class that underpin assumptions about and representations of wealth; institutional and political-economic dynamics, in relation to international financial systems and property markets; and experiences and attitudes, examined via elites' professional identities and cultural practices. The authors suggest that questioning the super-rich provides an avenue for the study of power in society, how it is reproduced, and how global hierarchies may be shifting. To that end, the articles attempt to make visible the brute force of the infrastructures (politics and policy, cultural and occupational conventions, financial devices and systems) that are occluded by the tendency to focus on the gloss of super-rich lifestyles; to draw attention to the long-term and newly emerging tensions within and between categories of wealth and of elites, and spheres of political, economic, and cultural activity; and to contribute to an understanding of how the accumulation of wealth is perpetuated and excused through discourses of legitimation, structural dynamics, and lived identities. These are much-needed critical interventions at a time of escalating inequality.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1751-7435
Print ISSN
1743-2197
Pages
pp. 1-14
Launched on MUSE
2019-05-23
Open Access
No
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