Dissecting the language of elitism: The ‘joyful’ violence of premium

Thurlow, Crispin (2020). Dissecting the language of elitism: The ‘joyful’ violence of premium. Language in society, 50(1), pp. 125-152. Cambridge University Press 10.1017/S0047404519001015

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Aligned with renewed commitments to class critique in sociolinguistics and discourse studies, I examine premium as a floating signifier. My initial semiotic landscape analysis demonstrates how this word is attached to any number of goods/services, coaxing people into a sense of distinction and superior status. These language games occur most vividly in my second analytic site—Premium Economy—where status is fabricated as tangibly but not too obviously distinct from Economy while preserving the prestige of Business. From a corpus of over forty international airlines’ promotional materials, I pinpoint three key rhetorics underpinning Premium Economy: extraction, excess, and comparison. My analysis locates premium as a quintessential form of symbolic violence (Bourdieu 1997/2000) deployed for controlling people by seducing, flattering, and enchanting them. The anxious bourgeoisie are thereby ‘joyfully enlisted’ (Lordon 2014) into the aspirational logics of elitism, all animated by the tenacious neoliberal ideologies of a supposedly post-class world. (Elite discourse, post-class ideology, floating signifiers, Frédéric Lordon ‘premium’, Premium Economy)*

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Thurlow, Crispin

Subjects:

400 Language
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages

ISSN:

0047-4045

Publisher:

Cambridge University Press

Language:

English

Submitter:

Fabienne Blaser

Date Deposited:

05 Jun 2020 12:31

Last Modified:

21 Mar 2021 02:46

Publisher DOI:

10.1017/S0047404519001015

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/140463

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