Elite without elitism? Boundary work and the israeli elite philanthropy in a changing field of power

Noa Krauz-Lahav, Adriana Kemp

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The crisis of neoliberalism and the upsurge of populist politics have renewed interest in how contemporary economic elites justify their privileged position, trying to be “moral” and “rich” in an era of increasing inequality and an anti-elite climate. We addressed this question through an ethnographic analysis of the socio-cultural life of the heirs of the Israeli economic elite and of the boundary-making processes that philanthropy allows them as they face internal and external challenges. Adopting analytical tools from a cultural process approach to inequality and a contextual approach to elite distinction, we suggest that the heirs generate distinct social and symbolic position within a changing field of power by presenting themselves as an “elite without elitism.” This is accomplished through a mutually reinforcing interplay between intra-elite distinctions and “inter-class inconspicuous distinction.” We contribute to the current analysis of elite reproduction “beyond Bourdieu” first by pointing at the (re)production of power and difference within the elite, and second by showing that where distinctions are drawn, matters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-341
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Problems
Volume67
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • Boundary work
  • Economic elites
  • Field of power
  • New philanthropy
  • Next generation

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