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An urban studies approach to elites: nurturing conceptual rigor and methodological pluralism

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This special issue offers a set of methodologies to chart urban elites. Whereas most research has focused on the global super-rich, the authors in this special issue pay specific attention to the multidimensional urban geographies of elite reproduction and transformation, as elites depend on urban contexts for capital accumulation, consumption and leisure, and housing. In this article, we discuss theoretical and methodological antecedents in urban studies that have investigated economic elites. Building on but moving beyond these bodies of literature, we reject a-priori definitions of the size and shape of this social group and propose to pursue relational, place specific conceptualizations of elite composition and behavior. In particular, we argue, urban elite research would benefit from paying more attention to: (i) boundary work between elites and non-elites; (ii) intra-elite competition and distinction; (iii) national state spaces in determining elite composition; and (iv) the urban sense of belonging of economic elites.
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Keywords: Urban studies; elites; methodology; social theory; super-rich

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

Publication date: May 28, 2019

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