Civility and the New Rich: An Eliasian Perspective on Emerging Markets

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Jennifer SMITH MAGUIRE, University of Leicester School of Business, United Kingdom
The paper explores the contributions of Elias’s concepts of established-outsider relations and modes of civility (1978; 1994; Elias & Scotson, 1994) for making sense of emerging markets. In particular, I am concerned with how an Eliasian perspective might illuminate the organisational and macro-marketing dynamics at play in the emergence of new, affluent markets. Recent decades have witnessed the arrival of new cadres of super-rich on the global stage. Emerging from disruptions and developments notably in Russia, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the ‘new, new rich’ are essentialized in the Western popular imagination by such figures as the Chinese tuhao shopper who brings a robot to carry his luxury purchases, or the Russian oligarch’s wife showing off her 70 carat diamond ring aboard her super yacht in Dubai. These media representations become important components of established-outsider tensions within the figuration of the global elite, as the established upper classes and their upper middle class aspirants interact with the nouveaux riches. I explore these dynamics through a media analysis, examining the ways in which the nouveaux riches are represented by and to the established elite. The analysis focuses on how the discourse of civility and notions of cultural legitimacy are mobilised to evaluate, categorize and (de)legitimate nouveau riche practices and groups as less civilised. The paper suggests that such media representations form part of a geo-politics of consumption and mediation shaping macro-organisational forms such as emerging markets.