Doctoral Fellow

Doctoral Fellow Mattia Lupi H. Lukas R. Arndt

IMPRS cotutelle student
Discipline: Sociology
Supervisors: Jens Beckert (MPIfG), Olivier Godechot (MaxPo)
Enrolled: September 2019
Personal profile page at the MPIfG

  • Project description

    Linking Wealth and Power: Capitalist Classes in the Twenty-First Century

    The exceptional concentration of wealth in western democracies during the past five decades has become common knowledge in the study of social stratification. This brings families and individuals who possess extraordinarily high levels of wealth into the spotlight. One concern about wealth concentration is that its beneficiaries might be a threat to democracy and the principle of one person–one vote. More precisely, concern surrounds the potential concentration of their structural and instrumental power. From the perspective of class analysis these would be individuals who concentrate control over capital in capitalist democracies: wealthy individuals and families, and powerful managers of the large corporations and financial institutions. This closely relates to a long-standing question: To what extent can the rich be understood as part of a capitalist class in itself and for itself? This project draws on ideas from the sociology of elites, corporate governance, corporate political action, as well as (neo-)Marxist class analysis to develop a framework for an analysis of capitalist classes in the twenty-first century. To test this framework empirically, a large sample of ca. 1 million of the largest corporations (ORBIS) is combined with data on super-rich individuals and families, as well as firm lobbying in the EU and the US. In a first step, global super-rich individuals and families’ structural class positions are mapped using corporate networks. Second, the relationship between control over capital and class formation is examined with data on corporate lobbying. The following research questions are pursued: Should the capitalist class be understood as a community of economic or even ruling elites, or as a structural class? Are individual class positions of members of the capitalist class related to (class) political action of their firms? Project duration: October 2018 to March 2023.


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