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Naked elites: unveiling embodied markers of superiority through co-performance ethnography in gentrified Brooklyn’s Park Slope

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In the super-gentrified neighborhood of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, elites joined democratic associations, such as karate dojos or food coops, to interact with and become socially accepted by the local community. Co-performance ethnography made it possible to recognize that progressive moral values led instead to exclusive behaviors. Drawing on symbolic interactionism and socio-cultural analysis, this article provides a definition of performance as the paradigm-driven methodological tool to unveil the hidden, micro-strategies of elite reproduction. I analyze how social mixing in gentrified neighborhoods encourages competing identities to reproduce symbolic boundaries, ultimately serving as a basis for socio-spatial inequality and conflict. The production of identities, behavior, and emotions highlights elites performance of a contextualized version of “self” to assert their superior status. It also shows how these relations of domination shape elites’ lives. These points call attention to the connections between capital accumulation and the hermeneutical agency of the body.
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Keywords: Economic elites; co-performance ethnography; gentrification; symbolic boundaries; theory of the self

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Sociology, The University of Trento, Trento, Italy

Publication date: May 28, 2019

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