Introduction: the movement of the few
In places of mass transit and intense movement- railway stations, airports, harbours, city streets, casinos, skyscrapers, beaches, malls- elite mobilities take place and go ethically and morally unquestioned: they are an accepted facet of everyday life. Within mobility-as-usual there are cordons in place which insulate the few from the travails of travel; these privilege speed, comfort, ease, productivity, elevation and other contemporary virtues for those who can afford them. Such demarcations are Ideologically unquestionable (although far from unquestioned) by the majority of the peripatetic or the still. Elite mobilities reinforce the popular images - super-yachts, limousines and biz-jets - of wealthy, powerful and high-status individuals who are super-included in societies and move between them through nested corridors (networks within networks) to distinct nodes or hubs with equally stratified features. Such destinations culminate more often than not in enclaves, compounds, gated communities, gentrified quarters or centres of exclusivity: degrees of stratification simultaneously, and disconcertingly, utterly restricted and yet highly accessible in terms of public visibility and awareness. The characteristics of premium networked spaces and fast-lane corridors for the few and their movement trickle down to the rest of society and perceptually enthral despite flagrant conflict with concerns about the global commons and the wellbeing and equality of the many. All sorts of secrecies ensure that elite mobilities are made unfathomable and beyond audit. Elite mobilities inform cultures of luxury, success and 'the good life' and enforce a self-stylization of global elitism founded on hypermobility, meritocracy and entrepreneurial heroism. In the present liquid era nothing in this styling can stay still for long, neither money nor a regionally fixed identity; therefore, what is needed is a critical mobility-sensitive approach to the residues of evidence emitted, discarded, or put on show in stratified circulations. This book holds the elite mobilities of the few up to scrutiny by collecting together scholars at the forefront of mobilities research invigorated by this aim.
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