The return of the English gentleman

By Daniel Smith.

Britain in 2015 is a strange country. Increasingly it feels as if we are living among ghosts, haunted like Hamlet in the court of Elsinore and equally hard pressed at how to decide how we feel about this. Part of the problem, I contend, is that the ghosts appear in such unlikely clothing and appear as such unlikely figures. In this article I explore this through two case studys, the case of Jack Wills clothing and Jaguar adverts for the new F-type coupe. What I try to situate is how these two cases illustrate the mythical reappearance of ideas, notions and representations of privlege which fit the contemporary landscape – a culture of capital where inherited wealth counts more now than it did for our great grand-parents, as Piketty (2014) has shown, and where old notions of class refuse to go away. As Savage (2014:597) rhetorically observes : “…is Jane Austen’s world so different from ours? Have we really left behind the elitism and pervasive inequality characteristic of aristocractic society and the Belle Époque?” As I argue in my new article, the ghosts live among us but we simply fail to recognise them completely as we develop strategies to allow for their appearance through vanishing mediators.

Smith, Daniel R. (2015), The Gent-rification of English masculinities: class, race and nation in contemporary consumption, Social Identities.

References :

Piketty, Thomas (2014), Captial in the 21st Century, (Cambridge: Harvard)

Savage, Mike (2014), ‘Piketty’s challenge for sociology’, British Journal of Sociology, 65(4): 591-606.