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Gendering the elites: an ethnographic approach to elite women’s lives and the re-production of inequality

Glucksberg, Luna (2016) Gendering the elites: an ethnographic approach to elite women’s lives and the re-production of inequality. Working Paper (7). International Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Transfers between generations are a key driver of social and economic inequalities, ensuring that wealth is not redistributed, but accumulated instead in the hands of a small elite, sometimes described as ‘the super-rich’. It is crucial to understand how this accumulated capital is socialized and passed down the generations through a labour that I argue is gendered in nature, heavily reliant on women, and currently under-researched. In this paper I address this gap ethnographically, focusing on the gendered labour that women perform to sustain and reproduce the dynastic projects of elite families. I compare and contrast the symbolically distant categories of mothers/wives (Ostrander 1984) and “girls” – young women who socialize on the VIP scene, as defined by Mears (2015). Both groups involve biologically female bodies deeply involved in the reproduction of elites but the categories they inhabit, the selves that are both ascribed to them and which they choose to present could not be any more different. In light of this data, elite London emerges as a social space structured around strong hierarchies not just of class but also gender. I therefore argue that it is essential to understand more about the interplay of these two structuring principles within elite spaces, focusing on the ‘invisible’ labour performed by elite women.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Author
Divisions: International Inequalities Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2019 16:06
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 12:16

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