The Visual Du Jour – Filthy Rich Socialization

Do check out this series of photo in Der Spiegel on children of the Russian über-wealthy. I know these photos are posed, but boy do they all look stiff:

As the article notes:

“SPIEGEL ONLINE: None of the children in your book are smiling. Is childhood missing from your pictures of children?

Skladmann: I wouldn’t say that. But they live in a secluded world. Some leave that world, to go to a public ballet school, for example. Their parents are attempting to make up for the Soviet times — they only want the best for their children. They receive private language lessons, they go swimming or play tennis. The lives of these children are very planned and regimented. That forces them to grow up quicker.”

2 thoughts on “The Visual Du Jour – Filthy Rich Socialization

  1. Hi, I want to play the devils advocate (for a bit).
    A few hundred years ago we decided that children are distinct from adults – that they have certain features (unbound, joyfull, playfull, …) and adults others (serious, ….).
    Shouldn’t we sociologists ask: What makes us feel so bad about a serious, stiff kid with a statesman behavoir. Is it just culture? Or is it unnatural.
    On the other hand, can we deny kids to have the full spectrum of feelings (stiff and serious as well as joyfull, playfull). And perhaps to adults as well?
    What are the (dis-)advantages of both models?

    • Certainly, insofar as Western societies historically redefined childhood as a special time in life characterized by the absence of adult responsibilities, what we see in the photos is a form of social deviance, and not just because of the stiff pose, but also all the objects and other cultural items that surround the children that belong neither to the adult world, nor to what we consider “standard” primary socialization.

      The key noted by the photographer is that these children grow relatively isolated (for a variety of reasons from preserving privilege to protecting from kidnapping for ransom), as sociologists, we should examine the effects of that. There is a pretty strong body of research on the effects of relative isolation on socialization. And I think what we see in the photos is what I would call the weight of social privilege and social class.

      And certainly, we can question why “stiff” is bad for children. After all, in the US, children of evangelical families are raised in the fear of hell and no one seems to think that is a problem, mostly because of the dominance of Christianity and dominant institutions are never questioned.

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