Elite Understanding of Economic Inequality
RC18 Political Sociology
Recently a growing field of ‘elite’ studies has emerged in response to historical research by economists which has demonstrated that the richest ‘one percent’ have increased their share of income and/or wealth in many countries, often contributing to an overall increase in economic inequality. A subfield to these recent contributions specifically focuses on how ‘elites’ understand these changes in and economic inequality more generally.
The session is inspired by Reis and Moore’s (2005) influential comparative study of Elite Perceptions of Poverty and Inequality, which found important differences in both understanding of, and (political) responses to issues of poverty and inequality in their respective countries, pointing to the need for understanding elite perceptions for implementing successful poverty and inequality reduction policies. We invite contributions from social scientists around the globe who have conducted empirical research on elite perceptions towards inequality. Specifically, we invite studies of elite perceptions of the distribution of material resources; as well as their views on economic inequality and how it relates to gender, ‘racial’ and ethnic disparities.
Previous studies have pointed towards the importance of paying attention to differential views towards inequality and poverty. Studies in liberal market economies have highlighted the importance of a discourse of meritocracy and hard work, and a reluctance of ‘elites’ to engage with issues of distribution.
The aim of the session is to bring together empirical researchers who are working on these issues and to facilitate a discussion in order to develop a global comparative perspective on ‘elite’ perceptions of inequality.
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