Elisabeth Schimpfossl

Lecturer in Sociology and Policy

In recent years I have focused on two research topics. First is research into the sociology of elites, power and social inequality, and, second, comparative research into media and journalism in post-communist Europe.

Elites, power and social inequality

My book “Rich Russians: From Oligarchs to Bourgeoisie” (forthcoming with Oxford University Press USA in early 2018) looks at the top 0.1 percent in Putin’s Russia. It is built around stories, picked from a sample of 80 interviews which I conducted with multimillionaires and billionaires, their spouses and their children. The chapters discuss their family histories, biographies, lifestyles, how they see their role and position on top of Russian society – as entrepreneurs, philanthropists, wives, heirs, etc. – and how they relate to the West.

In my current, soon-to-be-finished project, I am zooming in more closely on the philanthropists; super-rich Russians engaged in large-scale projects in charity and/or arts philanthropy. I am comparing them to British philanthropists. My aim has been to explore the similarities and differences between one of the newest and one of the oldest capitalist societies. I have had a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to carry out this project.

Post-communist journalism and self-censorship 

The second strand of my research deals with post-communist journalism, which I carry out together with Ilya Yablokov from the University of Leeds. Currently, we are conducting interviews for a monograph on Russian media on the example of several Russian media outlets and the biographies of their founders. Parallel to this, we are researching journalism in post-socialist countries (currently Hungary, Latvia and Germany), for which we have received a small research grant from the British Academy. We are particularly interested how journalists relate to questions around self-censorship.