Class Traitors? Wealthy progressives working against accumulation

The Centre for Work, Organisation and Society and the Centre for Economic Sociology and Innovation warmly invite you to join guest speaker Professor Rachel Sherman in this joint seminar.

  • Thu 10 Dec 20

    16:00 - 17:30

  • Online

    Via Zoom

  • Event speaker

    Professor Rachel Sherman, New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Sophie Hales

This is interdisciplinary seminar brought to you by the Centre for Work, Organisation and Society (CWOS) and the Centre for Economic Sociology and Innovation (CRESI). The aim of this seminar is to explore the behaviour of class elites and the commitment to to changing the unequal arrangements that they benefit from.

Seminar abstract

Research on class elites tends to analyse how they hoard advantage and wield power in a range of ways, from dominating politics to excluding others from social and occupational communities.

But some wealthy people believe that they have more than they are morally entitled to and are committed to changing the unequal social arrangements that have benefitted them materially.

Such people challenge dominant ideas that individual characteristics, such as working hard legitimate wealth accumulation, and reframe their self-interest as lying in the common good.

This presentation draws on 90 in-depth interviews, primarily with wealthy people active in social justice philanthropy, social justice investing, tax policy and interpersonal organising, to look at their efforts to work against a common sense of accumulation to create a culture of redistribution.


This seminar is free to attend with no need to book in advance. We warmly welcome you to share this with your friends, colleagues and classmates.

Zoom code:  980 2519 7582

Speaker bio

Rachel Sherman is Professor and Chair of Sociology at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College.

She conducts research and teaches in the areas of;

  • social class
  • social inequalities
  • work
  • culture
  • social movements
  • qualitative methods.

She is the author of Class Acts: Service and Inequality in Luxury Hotels (California, 2007) and Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence (Princeton, 2017).

Professor Sherman was a 2018-2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow.

Her current research is on wealthy progressives who are trying to challenge the systems that have produced their wealth.

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