All around the world there are elite suburban communities: Palo
Alto, California, and Greenwich, Connecticut, in the U.S.; Paris's
Neuilly; and Oxshott outside London. These wealthy suburbs are home
to the economic and social elites who work in the world's global
cities. Stockholm's suburb Djursholm is one such place. It is full
of large houses, winding lanes, and is surrounded by a beautiful
landscape. Its residents prize physical fitness, healthy eating,
fine art, and education. Despite Sweden's reputation for
egalitarianism, Djursholm is representative of global mechanisms of
privilege and its perpetuation. Leader Communities is the
sociologist Mikael Holmqvist's term for places like Djursholm: the
communities where elites choose to live, socialize with other
elites, and, most importantly, form families and raise their
children into future elites. Such neighborhoods consecrate
inhabitants into leaders-that is, they offer their residents a
social environment that imbues people with a sense of social and
moral elevation. By idealizing their residents, leader communities'
allegedly superior lifestyle and character act as a principle of
distinction and legitimation. Holmqvist calls this a consecracy-a
society that leads by means of its aura, brightness, and radiance,
allowing the privileged to pose as a moral vanguard. Leaders are
made-not born-by the culture, history, traditions, ceremonies,
rituals, and institutions of the place. Based on a comprehensive
five-year ethnographic study, this book is a community study of
Djursholm in which the author ventures inside the world of the
elite to explore the mechanics of social interaction and power.
Leader Communities introduces vital new concepts to the study and
understanding of contemporary elites and offers a troubling
analysis of the moral, social, and political consequences of their
aspirations to lead societies.
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