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Charismatic violence and the sanctification of the super-rich

McGoey, Linsey and Thiel, Darren J (2018) 'Charismatic violence and the sanctification of the super-rich.' Economy and Society, 47 (1). pp. 111-134. ISSN 0308-5147

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Drawing historical comparisons between the 19th century and the present, this article describes and analyses how an elite section of the global rich, through mega-giving and a reemerging notion of ‘noblesse oblige’ that is enshrined in the philanthrocapitalism movement, have fostered a sacred rationale for their extreme wealth. Not only do the new nobles hold the power of wealth but, through mega-giving, they generate a moral imagery akin to religious figures who ostensibly self-sacrifice for the good of everyone else. This generates a form of charismatic authority that affords the super-rich an influential space from which to spread a ‘theodicy of privilege’ – legitimating their elevated economic position, shielding growing wealth concentration from criticism, and sanctifying the claim that individual mega-wealth is collectively beneficial. Through its contribution to and facilitation of the inegalitarian status quo, this theodicy engenders various forms of structural violence. Here we explore the mechanisms that enable wealthy donors to position themselves as apparent benefactors of humanity, including a reliance on metrics that appear to justify the claim that targeted philanthropic expenditures can and are reducing global wealth and health inequalities, but which raise unanswered questions surrounding the actual effects of the outcomes claimed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Inequality; Philanthrocapitalism; Theodicy; Gifts; Charisma; Violence
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 16:45
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:48

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