Grand Fortunes. Dynasties and Forms of Wealth in France by Michel Pincon & Monique Pincon-Charlot

By Michel Pincon & Monique Pincon-Charlot

Going again for generations, the fortunes of significant households encompass way over money-they also are symbols of tradition and social interplay. they're on the middle of dense kinfolk and extra-family networks, of foreign coalitions and divisions. The authors elucidate the equipment of accumulation and the sarcastically quasi-collective nature of non-public fortunes.

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21 It is enough to start the process: the fortune having been established, the actual principle of passing it down is consubstantial. Inheritance is in the very nature of wealth, far from leading toward deterioration. One of the objectives of this work is to show that patrimony carries within itself the factors of its own perpetuation and transmission, and thus that it is at the foundation of social reproduction. In fact, the very idea of the existence of wealthy dynasties is often disturbing. The ideology of meritocracy, which assumes the probability of individual success, is reassuring because it opens up the universe of possibilitiesat least in the popular imagination.

A survey from CERC in 1975 valued durable possessions at 7% and precious objects at 4% of the total gross value of the household patrimonies. Furthermore, we know that collectibles and art works are exempted from the ISF tax basis and therefore few statistics about them have been issued. Since the symbolic, cultural and aesthetic value of these possessions goes up, excluding them from the assessment of patrimonies leads to an undervaluation of the disparities. In addition, they provide the material basis on which the transmission of an essential part of the human heritage operates, that of the qualities acquired by the person, which have no specific price.

In other words, material heritage is inseparable from human heritage. Along with financial and material possessions are transmitted acquaintances, knowledge, the skills and the manners that the accumulation of wealth permitted the family to collect. Conversely, managing the symbolic capital, conserving and maintaining these talents, presupposes spending the necessary material capital. The different forms of assets, inheritances, capital, and wealth are mutually reinforcing and are indispensable to each other.

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