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Elite Universities

The term elite universities is usually applied to those considered of the highest rank in the university sector, most often nationally and, increasingly, globally. Elite universities are viewed as the ‘top tier’ of the ‘top tier’, the very best of the best—not only distinctive and distinguished but also exceptional. Most elite universities are remarkably wealthy and their wealth both signals and underwrites their status.

In his widely acclaimed book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, published in English in 2014, Thomas Piketty explains the more financial capital such universities have the more they are able to enrich themselves through various investment strategies. Further, as the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu elaborates in his well-known theories of social reproduction, such capital endorses and produces other capitals—social, cultural, and symbolic. This ...

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