Chapter 1: They’ve ‘never had it so good’: the rise and rise of the super-rich and wealth inequality
Perhaps one silver lining on the storm clouds of the recent global financial crisis, particularly in Europe and North America, has been the growing attention given to ‘super-rich capitalism’, igniting debates in both the public sphere and academy about inequitable levels of prosperity and wealth in global society. Public commentators and journalists like Chrystia Freeland (2012), Robert Frank (2007) and John Kampfner (2014) have presented informative and popular writings on the rise of the global super-rich, and how they occupy the most exclusive places and networks on the planet, distanced far from the rest of us. Even public and private television broadcasters have got in on the act, illuminating the prosperous lifestyles and conspicuous consumption of the super-rich, from multimillionaire celebrities to the more outgoing and publicly available of the world’s billionaires (e.g., see the British Broadcasting Corporation’s The Super-Rich and Us, broadcast in 2015, and CNBC’s 2014 series Secret Lives of the Super Rich). Thankfully, beyond the perspective on glitzy lifestyles and super-rich consumption offered through the lens of popular culture, members of the social sciences community, from economists to urban studies specialists, have begun to look critically at the excessive growth and consumption, political economy and inequitable wealth creation of the super-rich in global society.