5: Status and Stereotypes

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Chapter 5 continues to explore how in contrast to meritocratic narratives which suggest objectivity and neutrality, hiring managers in the City appoint on the basis of tradition and culturally embedded frameworks instead. While previous chapters have explained a considerable homogeneity in the composition of City elites, this chapter focuses on how and why demographics differ between these jobs. With particular reference to corporate finance and trading in investment banks, it explains how hiring managers appoint and promote on the basis of embodied forms of cultural capital which suggest ‘fit’ and according to stereotypes around who has historically occupied key jobs. While not always efficient from a strictly economic perspective, hiring and promoting on this basis is rational from an alternative perspective, as it helps to compensate for the ambiguity of knowledge in key roles. The chapter ends by suggesting that as expertise and authority continue to be ‘read’ off the social identities of people in ‘top jobs’, this has facilitated a situation in which City leaders have got away with bullshit and bluff.

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