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Biography & Abstract
Emma Ischinsky

Emma is a PhD candidate at the International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne, Germany. She works on social and political inequality and the sociology of gender.

The Press and the Privileged. Analyzing Media Representations of Germany’s Wealth Elite

Over the past four decades, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few has increased tremendously in Germany. Research on the legitimization of large private fortunes and their owners has recently considered their coverage and representation in the media and indicates a largely favorable portrayal of the wealthy, emphasizing meritocratic arguments and neglecting broader economic structures. However, these mostly qualitative studies are based on very small samples of the super-rich and media content, often pre-selecting a specific subgroup of the wealthy, which makes their media representation less comparable. This study uses a unique corpus of press articles between 2005 and 2023 from eight German media outlets on the 500 richest Germans. Based on descriptive data, OLS regressions, and quantitative text analyses, I investigate the frequency of coverage and the narratives used in relation to characteristics of the super-rich and their wealth, such as their gender, the source, age, or amount of wealth. I expect press coverage only of a small fraction of the German super-rich, primarily represented positively with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and meritocracy. Analyzing the media representation of different types of fortunes and their owners provides important insights into the cultural foundations of persisting wealth inequality.

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