Against Accumulation: Class Traitors Challenge Wealth and Worth


  • Rachel Sherman Department of Sociology, The New School, New York



Class, Culture, Accumulation, Elites, Worth


Rich people are generally represented, both by academics and in popular culture, as desiring always to maximize and legitimate their wealth and social advantages. But some wealthy and class-privileged people have defined themselves as the beneficiaries of illegitimate systems of accumulation, and have reframed their own self-interest to include racial and economic justice. Participating in a range of organizations, they have begun to talk more openly about their wealth and class power and to take action to change the systems that have enabled their wealth, through policy advocacy, moving money to grassroots movements and solidarity economies, and shifting public narratives. But making these changes is harder than we might imagine. Drawing primarily on 90 interviews with people in the field, this paper addresses the affective, cultural, and strategic dimensions of working against accumulation and toward redistribution. I argue that these actions challenge deeply entrenched cultural common sense about accumulation, as both an indicator of good personhood and a goal of financial activity. This common sense is not only a characteristic of individuals but is also rooted in interpersonal relationships and financial institutions.


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How to Cite

Sherman, R. . (2021). Against Accumulation: Class Traitors Challenge Wealth and Worth. Sociologica, 15(2), 117–142.