Elites and in(justice): unravelling the link

As the world becomes increasingly unequal a renewed interest in elites, wealth and super-rich has emerged in the fields of sociology, political sciences and economics.  In the last years valid and important attempts to counterpart the initial lack of ethnographic studies of elites have been put forward, yet more attention ought to be devoted to the ways in which elites contribute to fostering and perpetuating the gap between the rich and the poor.

 One way to look at this aspect is to unfold how elites produce and spread a certain idea of justice and entitlement. This is certainly possible looking at urban spaces, where stark differences between wealth and poverty become visible, sometimes contested but some other times ignored.

 The purpose of the roundtable is to start unpacking the ways in which elites (local, global, urban and rural) understand and justify their position and how they elaborate an idea of urban justice, how they perceive their position and how they feel under siege or entitled to a position of privilege.

 Broadly this is an initiative to start building a network of scholars interested in questions of elite and urban in(justice). The roundtable will be an opportunity to discuss how both materially and ideologically elites determine a certain idea of justice and why studies of elites are relevant to understanding the perpetuation of inequality.

 More specifically, the roundtable aims at unpacking how and to what extent the idea of justice embodied by elites shapes a broader and more universal understanding of justice in the context of unequal societies. Contribution from different continents are welcome in order to trace general patterns but also local peculiarities.

 Those who are interested in contributing to this roundtable are invited to send a short abstract in which they propose a way to look at the link between elites and in(justice), providing a theoretical or an empirical (or a combination of the two) approach.

 Within this framework, encouraged topics of conversations are, but not limited to:

  • what spaces do elites occupy in the global/urban landscape?
  • how do elites contribute to creating comfort zones in the urban environment and how do these become visible and normalised?


Federica Duca, Wits University federicad@pari.org.za