CAMEo - Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies

Wealth and status in an age of Trump: the cultural production and consumption of the super-rich

Wednesday 17 May 2017, 2.00pm-5.30pm (reception to follow)

Fielding Johnson Building, First Floor Council Suite Room 1, University of Leicester

The global economy has been shaped by the rise of multinational corporations and global brands, outsourced labour, and the increased withdrawal of the state. At the same time, protracted economic slowdown and austerity measures, implemented alongside a continued concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, have resulted in a growing popular awareness of global and local inequalities, which have shaped public views on wealth and luxury. As a result, the cultural production and consumption of the super-rich have become areas of interest for researchers across a wide range of fields, including political economics, sociology, cultural studies, management, and creative industries and media studies.

The recent rise of Trump as a political, cultural, and media event has opened up new opportunities for interrogating the connections between wealth, luxury, and power. Attention has been given to the aesthetics of Trump as a magnate and politician, in addition to speculation on the changes that will occur on a global scale as a result of a new US government marked by an increased influence of corporations and the super-rich. This, paired with growing inequality, urgently calls for critical reflections on the cultural production and consumption of the super-rich, and the representational politics of wealth. This event will address the politics, aesthetics and ontology of wealth and luxury, via such topics as:

  • The politics and aesthetics of the production and provision of luxury goods and services
  • The spatial politics of wealth and the consumption of luxury
  • The relationship between wealth, status and politics
  • Mechanisms and implications of the concentration of wealth
  • The aesthetics of luxury and the politics of vulgarity

This half-day event will bring together an interdisciplinary panel of experts to discuss the current landscape of luxury, power and the cultural production and consumption of the super-rich.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Professor John Armitage (University of Southampton)
  • Professor Sarah Hall (University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Jonathan Beaverstock (University of Bristol)
  • Dr Jo Littler (University of London)

This is a free event, but spaces are limited

This event is part of the Cultural Production and Consumption research strand of CAMEo, the University of Leicester’s Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies.


  • 2.00 Welcome and Introduction
  • 2.10 Cultural Production of the Super Rich
  • 3.30 Coffee break
  • 4.00 Cultural Consumption of the Super Rich
  • 5.30 Drinks reception to follow

Professor Jon Beaverstock (University of Bristol) - Spatializing Private Wealth: Exposing the On and Off Shore Worlds of the Global Super-Rich

Professor Jonathan V. Beaverstock is currently Head of the School of Economics, Finance and Management at the University of Bristol, Bristol. Trained as an economic geographer, his research focuses on the internationalisation of banking and professional services, highly-skilled corporate labour migration and the competitiveness of financial centres like the City of London. Over the last decade he has become fascinated by the 'geographies' of the global super-rich, and particularly the infrastructure of capital and labour which reproduces the global super-rich's private wealth creation and management in the world economy. With John R. Short and Philip Hubbard, Jonathan brought the topic of the global super rich onto the intellectual agenda in 2003 in the journal, Geoforum, and has most recently edited the, Handbook on Wealth and the Super-Rich (Edward Elgar) with Iain Hay. Jonathan is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Commerce. Jonathan has previously worked at both Loughborough and Nottingham Universities, and has held visiting professorships at the National University of Singapore, Gent University (Belgium), the University of Western Sydney (Australia), Otago University (New Zealand) and Leicester University.

Professor Sarah Hall (University of Nottingham) - The spatial politics of financial elites in the City of London

Sarah Hall is Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Nottingham. Her research focuses on the contemporary transformation of the financial system and its implications for finance led economic development. She has particular interests in: the changing organisational form of wholesale financial services, elite financial labour markets, international financial centres and new forms of financial globalisation associated with currency internationalisation. Her research is central to the development of new, cultural economy approaches within economic geography and cognate social sciences. Sarah’s work is characterised by positioning financial elites, analytically and methodologically, as the entry point into these debates. Supported by funding from the ESRC, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust and the Nuffield Foundation, the majority of her research centres on London’s international financial district and its relations with North America, Europe and, increasingly China. She has previously held a British Academy Mid Career fellowship and currently acts as an editor of Geoforum and sits on the editorial boards of Economic Geography and the Journal of Economic Geography. Her research has been published in a number of journals and forms the basis of my book Global finance: places, spaces and people (London, Sage 2017).

Professor John Armitage (University of Southampton) - From the Idle Rich to the Working Super-Rich: Lifestyle Philanthropy and the Cultural Calendar

Dr John Armitage is Professor of Media Arts at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, United Kingdom. He is co-director of the Winchester Luxury Research Group and is a member of the editorial board of the journal Luxury: History, Culture, Consumption (Taylor & Francis). John is currently writing Luxury and Visual Culture (Bloomsbury, forthcoming) and, with Joanne Roberts and Jonathan Faiers, he is co-editing The Luxury Reader (Bloomsbury, forthcoming). He is also the co-editor, with Joanne Roberts, of Critical Luxury Studies: Art, Design, Media (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and the co-editor, with Joanne Roberts, of The Spirit of Luxury, a special issue of the journal Cultural Politics (Duke University Press, 2016). His main research interests are in luxury culture and luxurious forms of consumption, luxury and visuality, luxury and art, photography, cinema, television, social media and new media. His books and articles have been translated into Dutch, German, Korean, Mandarin, and Spanish.

Dr Jo Littler (University of London) - Normcore Plutocrats In Gold Elevators

Jo Littler is a Reader in the Centre for Culture and Creative Industries in the Department of Sociology at City, University of London. She is the author of Radical Consumption? Shopping for change in contemporary culture (2008) and is co-editor of The Politics of Heritage (2005, with Roshi Naidoo) and Cultural Studies and Anti-Consumerism (2011, with Sam Binkley). Her forthcoming book Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility is due to be published by Routledge in August 2017.

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