Upper Middle Class Reproduction in Santiago: How to Reproduce Privilege in a Context of Increasing Wealth.

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Maria-Luisa MENDEZ, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile
Modesto GAYO, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile
Using statistical data to plot global cities but also the level of neighbourhood (Burrows 2013), recent research has mapped capital’s spatial segregation and inequality reproduction patterns (Dorling 2014; Piketty 2014). Drawing on mixed methods data, coming from in depth interviews of upper middle class families in Santiago de Chile, as well as georeferenced data on construction permits, this paper explores the (old and new) strategies of social reproduction of this group within a context of change in which those in traditionally privileged positions experience the pressures of upwards social mobility and growth of wealth. Competences such as residential and educational choice have been key aspects among this group (Savage et al, 2005; Crozier and Reay, 2011). Given the pressures of the housing and educational markets, this paper explores the extent to which the upper middle class can deploy these competences (Boltanski, 1991) in order to maintain their class position (Hamnett and Butler, 2011).

This paper assesses whether this group is following the Bourdieusian distinction dynamic (Savage et al, 1992; Butler, 2001; Skeggs, 2004; Ruppert, 2006), or if they are actually facing new obstacles and thus creating newer reproduction strategies and boundary work such as those described as based on the “fear of falling”, “declining fortunes”, “age of anxiety” (Ehreinreich, 1989; Newman, 1993) or concerted cultivation (Lareau, 2002; Lareau, 2014).