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The hyperopia of wealth: the cultural legitimation of economic inequalities by top earners

  • Kuusela H
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Abstract

The article explores the attitudes and perceptions of those at the top of the income scale toward economic inequalities. Through a qualitative case study, it presents how a group of top 0.1% of earners in Finland—one of the most equal countries in the world—perceive and legitimize economic disparities in an era of rising inequalities. By drawing together studies of economic inequality with the sociology of elites, the article analyzes the cultural repertoires through which the top earners make sense of inequality. As its key finding, it introduces the concept of hyperopia of wealth to describe the discursive blindness that the wealthy respondents have toward the structural conditions of economic disparities. The results indicate that top earners have a tendency to either ignore or approve the existing inequalities while disregarding the role of the wealthy and wealth in the dynamics. This blindness is named as hyperopia of wealth, analogous to a condition in which one cannot see things that are close clearly.

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APA

Kuusela, H. (2020). The hyperopia of wealth: the cultural legitimation of economic inequalities by top earners. Socio-Economic Review. https://doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwaa047

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