‘You come back fighting. That’s what gives you the drive to achieve’: The extraordinary psychological construction of the super-rich in entertainment documentaries

Philippa Carr, Simon Goodman, Adam Jowett, Jackie Abell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Inequality in society is legitimised through the ‘meritocracy myth’ and existing research claims that the affluence of the super-rich is the result of their superior traits. Discursive Social Psychology examines the ways in which psychological concepts such as personality traits function in talk. This research explores how entertainment documentaries construct the traits of the super-rich to legitimise their wealth. A corpus of 41.5 hours of terrestrial UK televised broadcasts that used the term, ‘super-rich’ was analysed. This explored how wealthy individuals are presented as having superior psychological qualities compared to the general public in relation to their greater drive and resilience. However, wealthy individuals also talk about the development of superior traits as a response to adversity. Entertainment documentaries draw upon individualistic ideology to present wealth inequality as a natural consequence of individual differences and as a result, the current distribution of wealth is ‘just’ despite its negative consequences for all.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-574
Number of pages16
JournalDiscourse & Society
Volume32
Issue number5
Early online date5 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

Keywords

  • discourse analysis
  • discursive social psychology
  • distribution of wealth
  • documentaries
  • entertainment
  • ideology
  • inequality
  • meritocracy
  • super-rich
  • traits
  • wealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

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