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Mapping the ElitePower, Privilege, and Inequality$
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Surinder S. Jodhka and Jules Naudet

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199491070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199491070.001.0001

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For Things to Remain (Sort of) the Same, Everything Must Change

For Things to Remain (Sort of) the Same, Everything Must Change

India’s First-Generation Professional Elites and the Surreptitious Reproduction of Hierarchy

(p.246) 8 For Things to Remain (Sort of) the Same, Everything Must Change*
Mapping the Elite

Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, the author uses high status work environments as sites to investigate the (re)production of a new generation of Indian elites. Using the example of modern professional service organizations that have variations in gender and class outcomes, Ballakrishnen illuminates that while elite education is a standard requirement for entry, firms vary in the ways they valorize other markers of status. Particularly, Ballakrishnen finds that Desi—rather than global—firms align themselves around markers of language and cultural capital rather than gender in stratifying their inhabitants. In revealing these patterns, the author proposes to extend the following lines of sociological research about elites. First, Ballakrishnen argues that these ‘first-generation elites’ afford us a new understanding to a literature that has predominantly focussed on economic and political lineage as a source of its definitional authority. Second, the author suggests that one way in which the coordinates of elite mobility are moderated is through organizational exchange partners who act as powerful audiences that shape and repose to this definition. Finally, Ballakrishnen argues that while this new generation of elites are seemingly devoid of the hereditary lineage of their predecessors, their embodiment of meritocratic selection and advancement is still steeply rooted in background frameworks of class and patriarchal privilege that surreptitiously reinforce new avatars of deeply embedded stratification.

Keywords:   professional elites, gender, gender and professional work, professional service firms, mobility, privilege, meritocracy, social reproduction

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