1st Edition

The Politics of the Elite Ideological Orientations, Mothering, and Social Mobilities in Neoliberal Chile

By Modesto Gayo, María Luisa Méndez Copyright 2024
    234 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is a study of class formation at the top of the social hierarchies during the turbulent and changing early twenty-first century. Contrary to perceptions that privileged individuals exist according to little more than market and economic logics, the book provides evidence that they are by no means absent from politics and civic engagement. Adopting a focus on reproduction, distinction, and politics, it delves into the complex relationship between cohesion and fragmentation that exists within the most privileged groups formed over the course of the contemporary neoliberal period.

    By knitting a dialogue between spatial analysis, multiple correspondence analysis, and in-depth interviews, the book provides insights into the intricate relations between institutions and political subjectivities, and the role of space and mothering in the political socialisation of Chile’s most privileged families. The result is a dense description of a social class fragmented by subtle ideological lines based upon economic inheritance, socialisation within homogeneous family environments, paths into the labour market, and social and political activities.

    This book will constitute a much-needed research resource for academics, students, and professionals in areas such as elite studies, social stratification, inequality, social reproduction, accumulation, political socialisation, and contemporary conservative/progressive views.

    1. Introduction

    2. Neoliberal political subjectivities

    3. Navigating through fragmented and ambivalent political ideologies

    4. Socialisation into politics

    5. Mothering the elites: raising political subjectivities

    6. Social trajectories

    7. Educational institutions as a key element in class constellations: Imprinting values, delineating trajectories within the upper middle class and beyond

    8. The politics of space

    9. Conclusions


    Modesto Gayo is Full Professor of Sociology at the Universidad Diego Portales. He has developed research on inequalities regarding areas such as class politics and cultural capital. His most recent books are Upper Middle Class Social Reproduction (with Maria Luisa Mendez 2019), Clase y cultura. Reproducción social, desigualdad y cambio en Chile (2020), Fields, Capitals, Habitus. Australian Culture, Inequalities and Social Divisions (co-edited with Tony Bennett, David Carter, Michelle Kelly, and Greg Noble, 2021), and Clase y política en España I (1986–2008). Estructura social y clase media en la democracia postransicional (2021).

    María Luisa Méndez is Professor at Universidad Catolica de Chile and Director of the Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (COES). Her research interests include inequalities, social mobility, and urban conflicts. Her most recent book is Upper Middle Class Social Reproduction (with Modesto Gayo in 2019), along with several articles on territorial stigma and reputation, class and space, and contemporary forms of socio-spatial inequalities that have been published in journals such as Urban Studies, Urban Geography, Cities, and City and Community, among others.

    “This brilliant book provides an utterly persuasive sociological account of the organisation and operation of elite power and privilege in Chile. The depth of analysis exceeds that of any study, from any nation, that I am aware of. It should therefore be of interest to all sociologists of power and inequality across the globe.”  

    Prof. Mike Savage, London School of Economics and Political Science

    “The politics of the elites is crucial for inequalities. In this indepth multi method research, renowned sociologists Maria Luisa Mendez and Modesto Gayo produce a rigourous analysis of elites education, socialisation, segregation, reproduction and class making in Chile. But what bears emphasizing is the political dimension of this class constellation, tensions and differences in order to show political orientations and agencies in relation to trajectories of social mobility and reproduction.”

    Prof. Patrick Le Gales, Science Po

    The Politics of the Elite is a major addition to the international literature, contributing to our understanding of contemporary Latin-American elites. Extending the Bourdieusian approach, the book zooms in on political socialization and fragmentation, exploring the role of mothers in defining an ideal moral world that is structured around diversity or homogeneity, different types of individualism (more cosmopolitan or localistic), and more or less openness to change or conservatism. This book should be widely read and discussed.”

    Prof. Michèle Lamont, Harvard University