Elisabeth Schimpfössl
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Timothy Monteath
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The Sunday Times Rich List and the myth of the self-made man
in How the other half lives
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The supplement to the 2018 Sunday Times Rich List claimed that 94 per cent of its entries were self-made. Our own research into the top fifth of the Rich List shows that much of this ‘self-making’ consisted of a rise from being very wealthy to becoming stupefyingly wealthy. Many of them were born into straightforward old and inherited money. In some cases, this implied wealth dynasties that go back many generations; other supposedly ‘self-made’ Rich Listers were born into the aristocracy. This made us wonder what distance someone must travel to deserve the self-made label. Beyond that, we contemplated less obvious and more ‘subtle’ forms of privilege. They might make people pass as ‘self-made’ but yet sit slightly uneasily with the claim to ‘humble’ backgrounds. Some of such ‘hidden’ privilege might be those born to well-off and high-powered parents who could ensure their offspring an elite upbringing or, at least, exclusive schooling. The appeal of the ‘self-made’ fortune is that ‘good’ wealth is merited wealth, one that has been achieved by honest means and through hard work. The Sunday Times opted for such an editorial line, one that celebrates the accumulation of wealth while denying the structural privileges which have enabled the successes of those on the Rich List.

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How the other half lives

Interconnecting socio-spatial inequalities


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