Risk Mismatches and Inequalities: Oil and Gas and Elite Risk-Classes in the U.S. and Canada
Keywords:class inequalities, elite risk-classes, oil and gas, risk-class, risk mismatches
There has been a recent renewal of approaches to the study of class and inequality, including Bourdieusian class analysis, the new economics of inequality, and Marxist class approaches. Despite the importance of these approaches, they have a common baseline that this paper problematises. This baseline is that these approaches to inequality identify the economic dimension of inequalities as one in which a series of goods are produced, and then different individuals or groups are able to employ certain types of powers to disproportionately appropriate or accumulate these goods. Without denying the importance of inequalities in goods, this paper focuses on another set of processes that are interacting with the process of the distribution of goods — the production and distribution of risks. This paper employs the concept risk-class to analyse how inequalities are emerging from systematic mismatches between a group’s share of the benefits from the production of risk and their share in the damages from the distribution of these risks. Bringing together an analysis of the oil and gas industry with recent discussions of inequalities emerging from financial risk, this paper identifies risk-class-elites whose advantageous risk positions are secured at the cost of intensified risks for the already least advantaged.
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