1st Edition

The Cultural Politics of Anti-Elitism

Edited By Moritz Ege, Johannes Springer Copyright 2023
    356 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the highly ambivalent implications and effects of anti-elitism. It draws on this theme as a cross-cutting entry point to provide transdisciplinary analysis of current conjunctures and their contradictions, drawing on examples from popular culture and media, politics, fashion, labour and spatial arrangements.

    Using the toolboxes of media and discourse analysis, hegemony theory, ethnography, critical social psychology and cultural studies more broadly, the book surveys and theorizes the forms, the implications and the ambiguities and limits of anti-elitist formations in different parts of the world. Anti-elitist sentiments colour the contemporary political conjuncture as much as they shape pop cultural and media trends. Populists, right-wing authoritarian ones and others, direct their anger at cultural, political and, sometimes, economic elites while supporting other elites and creating new ones. At the same time, "elitist" knowledge and expertise, decision-making power and taste regimes are being questioned in societal transformations that are discussed much more positively under headlines such as participation or democratization.

    The book brings together a group of international, interdisciplinary case studies in order to better understand the ways in which the battle cry "against the elites" shapes current conjunctures and possible future politics, focusing on themes such as nationalist political discourse in India, Austria, the UK and Hungary, labour struggles and anti-oligarchy rhetoric in Russia, tax-avoiding elites and fiscal imaginaries, working-class agency, Melania Trump as a celebrity narrative in Slovenia, aesthetic codes of the Alt-Right, football hooliganism in Germany, "hipster hate" in German political discourse or the politics of expertise and anti-elite iconography in high fashion internationally. The book is intended for undergraduates, postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license

    Chapter 1. The cultural politics of anti-elitism between populism, pop culture and everyday life: an introduction

    Moritz Ege and Johannes Springer

    Part I. An anti-elite moment

    Chapter 2. Anti-elitism, populism and the question of the conjuncture

    John Clarke

    Chapter 3. The betrayal of the elites: populism and anti-elitism

    Paolo Gerbaudo

    Chapter 4. The transclasse and the common people: autosociobiographies and the anti-elitist imaginary

    Jens Wietschorke

    Part II. Politics, economy, inequality

    Chapter 5. What are we going to do about the rich? Anti-elitism, neo-liberal common sense and the politics of taxation

    Rebecca Bramall

    Chapter 6. Criticism of elites and subjective social agency: a look at the workers

    Stefanie Hürtgen

    Chapter 7. "Social rage" against the oligarchs: justice, Jews and dreams of unity in current Russia

    Olga Reznikova

    Part III. Spatial and temporal differentiations

    Chapter 8. Countryside versus city? Anti-urban populism, Heimat discourse and rurban assemblages in Austria

    Brigitta Schmidt-Lauber

    Chapter 9. Invoking urgency: emotional politics and two kinds of anti-elitism

    Alexandra Schwell

    Chapter 10. The elite as the political adversary: neo-liberalism and the cultural politics of Hindutva

    Sanam Roohi

    Part IV. Anti-elitism and the (new) right

    Chapter 11. The heroic deed, the wrong word and the utopia of clarity: the discourse of Germany’s New Right on elites and its links to popular culture.

    Sebastian Dümling

    Chapter 12. "Unpolitical in this time/truly one can no longer be so": The raw anti-elitism of hooligans in Germany

    Richard Gebhardt

    Chapter 13. Nazi-Barbies: performing ultra-femininity against the “Feminist Elite” in the Alt-Right movement

    Diana Weis

    Part V. Pop culture and its politics

    Chapter 14. Celebrity and the displacement of class: the folkloristic ordinariness of Melania Trump

    Breda Luthar

    Chapter 15. Who says who’s cool, and how much is it worth? The convergence of elite luxury fashion with streetwear styles

    Sonja Eismann

    Chapter 16. Against hipsters, left and right: a figure of cultural elitism and social anxiety

    Moritz Ege and Johannes Springer

    Chapter 17. The ghost of Europe is shifting shape: how the film Folkbildningsterror intervenes in left debates around class vs. identity politics

    Atlanta Ina Beyer


    Moritz Ege is professor of Cultural Studies/Popular Cultures at the University of Zurich. His publications cover a range of topics in urban ethnography, cultures of social inequality, political dynamics of the popular and conjunctural analysis.

    Johannes Springer teaches cultural studies at the Institute of Music at the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück, Germany. His areas of interest and publications include pop music history, music video studies, labour in creative industries, production of culture perspectives and theories of space and place, stars and fandom.