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

Date

2021-05-05

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

0957-9265

Volume Title

Publisher

Sage

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

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.

Description

open access article

Keywords

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

Citation

Carr, P., Goodman, S., Jowett, A. and Abell ,J. (2021) ‘You come back fighting. That’s what gives you the drive to achieve’: The extraordinary psychological construction of the super-rich in entertainment documentaries. Discourse & Society,

Rights

Research Institute

Institute for Psychological Science