Watson Institute at Brown University
Stone Inequality Initiative

Parties, Foodies, and Privilege: Snapshots of Culture in the New Gilded Age

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

4:00pm – 5:30pm

Register here to join the webinar.

What are the cultural patterns of the very rich? How is their privilege displayed through the consumption of gourmet foods, "models and bottles," and elite private education? In this panel, scholars S. Margot Finn (Sustainable Food Systems Initiative, University of Michigan), Shamus Khan (Sociology, Princeton), and Ashley Mears (Sociology, Boston University) examine different dimensions of moneyed leisure in an age of record economic disparities. Finn's work centers on the rise of gourmet, "ethnic," diet, and organic foods. She argues that this rise must be understood in tandem with the ever-widening income inequality gap. Khan writes on culture, inequality, gender, and elites. His book Privilege takes us to St. Paul's School, one of the most prestigious high schools in the United States, to explore how its students learn, as they always have, how to embody privilege. Lastly, Mears's work offers us a window into the extravagant hedonism of the "global party circuit." Her investigation of this world of million-dollar birthday parties, megayachts on the French Riviera, and $40,000 bottles of champagne reveals the intricate economy of beauty, status, and money that lies behind these spectacular displays of wealth and leisure.

Commentators on the panel will include:

Margot Finn, Sustainable Food Systems Initiative, University of Michigan

Shamus Khan, Sociology, Princeton

Ashley Mears, Sociology, Boston University

James Morone, (moderator) Political Science and Urban Studies

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