Chapter 8: Taking up Caletrío’s challenge: silence and the construction of wealth eliteness in Jamie Johnson’s documentary film Born Rich
Sam Schulz and Iain Hay
In a review published in 2012, Javier Caletr'o raised the question of how, in an era typified by a radical widening of the social and economic gap, academic concern with inequality remained so firmly fixed upon the poor. Echoing sentiments raised previously by Beaverstock et al. (2004), Caletr'o argued that the very rich remain protected by a ‘veil of silence’ so effective as to ensure their ‘invisibility and impunity’ (p. 136). He called upon social science researchers to find new ways of examining social systems that seem, sometimes exclusively, to operate in favour of those who are already privileged. This chapter joins emerging efforts (e.g., chapters 2 and 5 by Koh, Wissink and Forrest, and Sayer in this volume) to take up that challenge. For race theorists, turning the analytic gaze back upon privilege is not new: they have long valued the need to avert critical attention ‘from the racial object to the racial subject’ (Morrison, 1992, p. 90) so as to reorient the sociological and geographical focus from ‘victims’ of racism and common sense assumptions of ‘race’ as synonymous with non-white people, to the prioritization of whiteness as an area of critical endeavor (Back and Solomos, 2000, pp. 21–2). A key finding in this field is that mechanisms of privilege remain largely unseen and unexamined by those who benefit most from them, and this in turn advances a notion of ‘everyday privilege’, a phenomenon that is protected and reproduced through its routine denial (McIntosh, 2002).
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