Chapter 8: The elite countryside: shifting rural geographies of the transnational super-rich
The contemporary wave of neoliberal globalization has given rise to a new class of the global super-rich, whose wealth is based on a global web of financial interests, and whose lives are lived transnationally between various homes, offices and retreats (see Hay and Muller 2012). The geographies of this transnational elite have been conventionally closely associated with global cities; Beaverstock (2005) noted that ‘being a member of a transnational elite is fundamentally associated with being embedded within transnational networks, which are both cross-border and highly spatialized in the transnational social spaces of the city’ (p. 246) (see also Beaverstock 2002, 2006; Dunn 2010; Sassen 2001; Sklair 2001). Yet, the very reach and pervasiveness of transnational networks means that the economic and social geographies of transnational elites extend beyond the global city. The rural landscapes of the emergent ‘global countryside’ (Woods 2007), variously function as sites of wealth generation for the transnational rich and super-rich (from farming, mining, energy production and property holdings), and as their playgrounds. Fashionable rural resort areas can act as hubs of transnational elite social space just as much as the gated communities and exclusive clubs of global cities.
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