Money in the Media: Print Media Representation of the German Super-Rich

Emma Ischinsky

Over the last four decades, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few has increased significantly in Germany. Surprisingly, this development is not accompanied by corresponding public concern or demands for redistribution. Previous research shows that mass media tend to legitimize wealth inequality by neglecting the role of broader economic structures and hardly questioning the existence of large private fortunes. This dissertation project examines how the super-rich are represented in German print media and to what extent these representations (de)legitimize their wealth. By considering the demographic composition of the readership and the political orientation of the media, the dissertation contributes to existing research on wealth inequality by contextualizing the representation of the super-rich in a broader societal perspective. Whereas previous, mostly qualitative research uses very small samples of the super-rich and media sources, in this project a unique and comprehensive corpus of press articles on the German super-rich is generated and analyzed. Examining the way mass media represent large fortunes and their owners, the project provides important insights into the narratives that might contribute to persistent wealth inequality.

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