Don't Mix Paxil, Viagra, and Xanax: What Financiers' Jokes Say about Inequality

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Abstract

This article makes use of theories of humor and play to analyze a corpus of jokes private equity investors tell about the work that they do. Private equity investors, at the time of a field project I conducted from spring 2012 through summer 2014, managed about US$3.5 trillion in mostly other people's money, to buy and sell whole companies as investments. By just about any measure, they're wealthy and powerful (they have lots of resources and can make many other people do things). I suggest that analyzing private equity investors' jokes and laughter allows us a way to understand what they think about the wealth and power they cultivate and the inequality they enable. I further suggest that private equity investors, in many ways, are ambivalent about the justification for their social status. In turn, my analysis and observations offer a critique of too rigid theories about the nature of present social inequality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomic Anthropology
Volume4
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)107–119
ISSN2330-4847
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Finance
  • Inequality
  • Humor

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