November, 2018

Stepping into the Elite

Trajectories of Social Achievement in India, France, and the United States

Jules Naudet

The experience of shifting from one social class to another—from a dominated group to a dominant group—raises the question of how the upwardly mobile person relates to his/her group of origin. Stepping into the Elite traces the particular ways in which upwardly mobile people in India, France, and the United States—countries embodying three distinct stratification systems—make sense of this change.

Given that people draw upon specific cultural tools or repertoires to analyse their world and situate themselves in it, Naudet identifies the extent to which narratives of ‘success’ vary from one country to another. For instance, he explains that while stories in a caste-ridden society such as India hinge on the preservation of bonds with the original class, in France, they are centered on the idea that an upwardly mobile person is alienated from all social groups. In the United States, on the other hand, the rhetoric of success is tinged by the ardent belief in the American society being classless. A sociological journey in three different cultural contexts, this book deftly ties the exploration of questions regarding transformation of social identity and views on being successful.