Gloomy at the Top: How the Wealthiest 0.1% Feel about the Rest
Growing inequalities have prompted research on the wealthiest groups and their cohesive practices and ideologies. This article suggests that emotional expression – how the members of the wealthy upper class feel about themselves and the rest of society – provides a way to examine their position in society. Drawing from interviews with business executives who belong to the richest 0.1% in Finland and to their society’s power elites, I argue that just as low-income groups feel resentful towards more affluent groups, the wealthy also harbour resentment towards more disadvantaged groups. The wealthy executives create an emotionally laden self-justification – a deep story – in which they feel positively about themselves but assign negative feelings to other classes. In this narrative, the optimistic business elites thus become gloomy societal elites, who build empathy walls against the less advantaged groups even in Finland, one of the world’s most equal countries.