Identity performances of the global elite and the power of the local - Everyday actions of white German bank managers in London and Singapore
Joblessness and Social Inclusion Institute for Employment Research Nuremberg, Germany
Usually the elite and their cultural identities, the white high qualified and well paid males, are invisible in social research. In my presentation the formation of elite identities by their everyday activities and performances is investigated in two different cities. Based on the analysis of empirical data collected by participant observation and in semi-structured interviews with German finance managers working in London and in Singapore the construction of whiteness, maleness and of being the global elite became visible in both cities. By living, working and spending leisure time in London or Singapore the process of identity construction becomes a process of a steady interaction with the city: with its specific history, its social structure and its materiality. My presentation will not only demonstrate the process of identity construction in different contexts, it will also demonstrate the process of identity construction as an interaction with the city and its specific history: with the colonial city of Singapore and with the imperial city of London. In their everyday production of identities the German bankers interact with the city structures. And they are also bringing something with them into the city which massively influences their encounter with the city: their images of the cities. These images produce different expectations of the city and of specific places in the city. They have some impact on the everyday activities and the unique identity formations of the managers.