The Corporate Power of the British Monarchy:Capital(ism), Wealth and Power in Contemporary Britain

Clancy, Laura (2021) The Corporate Power of the British Monarchy:Capital(ism), Wealth and Power in Contemporary Britain. The Sociological Review, 69 (2). pp. 330-347. ISSN 0038-0261

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This article offers a critical analysis of the British monarchy within wider political economies of wealth and power. While sociology has renewed its interest in ‘the elites’, the British monarchy is often positioned as an archaic institution, an anachronism in relation to corporate forms of wealth and power, and therefore irrelevant. This article counters this framing by revealing the mechanics, technologies and actors ‘behind the scenes’, in order to expose and demystify the relationship between the symbolic and political-economic functions of the monarchy. To do this, I (re)conceptualise the monarchy as a corporation, ‘The Firm’, oriented towards, and historically entrenched in, processes of capital accumulation, profit extraction and other forms of exploitation. The article maps out The Firm’s labour relations, financial arrangements, inter/national relationships and networks, and the legal status of The Crown and its components in order to demonstrate how ‘old’ and ‘new’ forms of wealth intersect and converge in contemporary Britain. This article is intended as a provocation to sociological studies of elites to suggest that, in overlooking monarchy, we are overlooking a key component of contemporary capitalism, and a key component in the reproduction of inequalities today.

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Journal Article
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The Sociological Review
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, The Sociological Review, 69 (2), 2020, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2020 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the The Sociological Review page: on SAGE Journals Online:
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30 Jan 2020 11:05
Last Modified:
30 Oct 2023 00:54