Theory Stream Plenary at the BSA Annual Conference

Where I would definitely be at 5pm on Friday if I was in Glasgow:

Title: ‘The Challenge of the Rich: Theorizing the Power and Political Economy of Elites and Elite Wealth’

Speakers: Professor Julie Froud (University of Manchester) and Professor Andrew Sayer (Lancaster University)

Date and Time: Friday 17 April, 5-6pm

Location: Glasgow Caledonian University, Hamish Wood Building, Room W110


Session Overview: Sociologists have long been interested in theories of class. But have they paid sufficient attention to structural changes in political economy that have led to an increasing gap between economic elites and the rest?  Evidence from the fields of geography, sociology and economics suggests that, in important ways, current inequality levels may be rendering social life more akin to the 19th century in terms of class divides, increasingly meagre state support for housing and subsistence needs, and growing ideological support for forced labour schemes.  However, partly inspired by Bourdieu’s work, sociological investigations of class in recent years have typically placed more emphasis on the lived experience of class from a cultural perspective.  This plenary is part of an attempt to rebalance debates by focusing on the economic elites – the rich – and their role in promoting economic inequality.  Our plenary speakers, Professor Julie Froud and Professor Andrew Sayer, are thinkers who are working to rejuvenate the study of elites by exploring how they generate their wealth, and the consequences of the inequality that results. The plenary talks will explore issues such as how elite power involves a capture of the political agenda and how elite wealth is produced by the control of resources which generate unearned income.

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