Chapter 10: Biographies of illicit super-wealth
As well as holding great material wealth, the super-rich have immense normative power across a range of cultural discourses. They shape desires and resultant spending patterns across a wide economic and cultural spectrum (Frank, 1999). This chapter is concerned, in part, with the normative power of super-wealth, and its consequences, and explores it through the lens of that subset of the super-wealthy whose money has been derived from illicit economic activities. Illicit economic activities here refer to either those activities that are located within illegal markets, for example, illegal narcotics markets, or activities that are illegal but take place within legal markets, such as financial fraud. In addition we might also recognize and include the actions of corrupt public officials. This chapter aims to say something about the illicitly super-wealthy, of whom the super-rich literature has said very little to date, and also about the normative power that comes with wealth, again, something that the salient literatures have only explored in a limited sense thus far. It aims, therefore, to add a little range and nuance to the multidisciplinary literatures of the super-rich. Implicit in this chapter are a number of questions regarding the literature of the super-rich.
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