Céline Bessière & Sibylle Gollac: The gender of capital. How families perpetuate wealth inequality
In this seminar, Céline Bessière (Paris Dauphine University) and Sibylle Gollac (CNRS) will present their work on wealth accumulation, class and gender. Their recent book, "Le Genre du capital: Comment la famille reproduit les inégalités" (Paris, La Découverte, 2020), draws on family monographs extending 15 years of ethnography. In combination with statistical material, this impressive work brings attention to the ways in which families perpetuate wealth inequalities.
Credits: DR - editionsladecouverte.fr
Why do women accumulate less wealth than men? Why do marital separations impoverish women while they do not prevent men from becoming wealthy? Céline Bessière and Sibylle Gollac are sociologists. Drawing on research spanning twenty years, they analyze what they call family wealth arrangements. They break with the common understanding of the family as an emotional haven of peace in a brutal capitalist world. Spouses and partners, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers do not play the same part in family strategies of social reproduction, nor do they reap the same profits from them. In reality, the family is an economic institution that produces, circulates, controls and evaluates wealth. The meaning of this economic institution is revealed, in particular, in moments of marital breakdown and inheritance. From the single mothers of the French “Yellow Vest” movement to the divorce of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, from the legacy of family businesses to the estate of the Trump family, the mechanisms of control and distribution of capital vary according to social class, yet always result in the disposession of women. Capital is gendered. Class society is perpetuated through the masculine appropriation of capital.
A review of the book by Joan Scott: March, 26, 2021, “How Families Reproduce the Inequalities of Capitalism“, by Joan Scott, European Journal of Sociology, 61, 3, 2021, pp. 437-439