Handbook on Wealth and the Super-Rich
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Handbook on Wealth and the Super-Rich

Edited by Iain Hay and Jonathan V. Beaverstock

Fewer than 100 people own and control more wealth than 50 per cent of the world’s population. The Handbook on Wealth and the Super-Rich is a unique examination of both the lives and lifestyles of the super-rich, as well as the processes that underpin super-wealth generation and its unequal distribution. Drawing on a multiplicity of international examples, leading experts from across the social sciences offer a landmark multidisciplinary contribution to emerging analyses of the global super-rich and their astonishing wealth. The book’s 22 accessible and coherently organised chapters cover a range of captivating topics from biographies of illicit super-wealth, to tax footprint reduction, to the environmental consequences of super-rich lives and their conspicuous consumption.
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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

Extract

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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