Rich Russians: From Oligarchs to Bourgeoisie

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Abstract

This book looks at representatives of the top 0.1 per cent of Russian society: their stories, trajectories, ideas about life, and how they see their role and position at the top of Russian society. They are explored through their own stories: eighty interviews with multimillionaires and billionaires, and their spouses and children, conducted between 2008 and 2017. These people grew up and lived through a historically unique period of economic turmoil and social change following the collapse of the Soviet Union. When taken in a wider historical context, however, we see the repetition of a time-honored process whereby new money becomes respectable money. Rich Russians applies the sociological frameworks of Max Weber and Pierre Bourdieu in substantiating the claim that bourgeois Russians have acquired all sorts of cultural and social resources that help consolidate their power individually and as a group. They have elaborated more distinguished and refined tastes, rediscovered their family history, and begun actively engaging in philanthropy. Most importantly, they have worked out a narrative for themselves justifying why they deserve their elitist position in society-because of who they are and their superior qualities over others-and why they should be treated as equals by the West. This new, empirically grounded research helps us to understand the Russian bourgeois elite and its increasingly complex relations with Western societies.

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages234
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StatePublished - 2018

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research

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